New Delhi: Three years into office, the Union government on Monday formed another committee, this time headed by space scientist K. Kasturirangan, to come up with the blueprint for a new education policy.

Given that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has under two years left in its tenure, the big question is whether the government will have sufficient time to deliver on an electoral promise made in the run-up to the 16th general election.

“The committee for preparation of final draft of National Education Policy has been constituted under the chairmanship of eminent scientist Padma Vibhushan Dr K. Kasturirangan," the human resources development (HRD) ministry said in a statement on Monday.

The formal communication from the HRD ministry did not set a timeline for the new committee to submit a report.

The previous committee was constituted under the chairmanship of T.S.R. Subramanian, former cabinet secretary, by the government in 2015. Due to differences between some members the committee and the then HRD minister Smriti Irani, the recommendations submitted in 2016 were not received well.

An official of the HRD ministry said the new committee could take “six to seven months" for preparing the report.

Another HRD ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, admitted that it would be tough to implement the recommendations of the committee in the next one year and that “it would have been better to constitute it in 2016 itself for a smooth implementation of the policy before 2019 elections."

The Kasturirangan committee will supersede the Subramanian committee.

The Subramanian committee had advocated a new civil service cadre for the education sector, abolition of the University Grants Commission, continuation of a no-detention policy till Class V, and the teaching of English at the primary school level.

The Kasturirangan committee has been mandated to make Indian education contemporary, improve its quality, and internationalize it.

It could also provide a roadmap for the entry of foreign universities into India.

The ministry said the new committee would take into account the ground work done over last 30 months and inputs received from the Subramanian committee and start work with “immediate effect."

“In an exhaustive exercise carried for last 30 months the HRD ministry has received thousands of suggestions from educationists, teachers, experts, students and other stakeholders from across the country," it said.

The Rajya Sabha debated some of the issues last year. Many MPs have given their views in writing and 26,000 people have provided feedback on the MyGov website, the ministry said. All these, including the Subramanian committee’s detailed inputs, “will be considered by the committee," said the ministry.

Apart from Kasturirangan, the nine-member committee includes K.J. Alphonse, a retired bureaucrat and special invitee to the BJP’s executive committee, mathematician and Fields Medal winner Manjul Bhargava from Princeton University and Vasudha Kamat, a prominent academic.

“We all know what the education sector needs - quality improvement. It’s difficult to understand what committee after committee is doing. I believe the education policy should have rolled out in 2016 for a smooth implementation. Then only, its results would have started coming by 2019. Now, it’s only getting delayed for no one’s benefit" according to Rohin Kapoor, director, education practice at consulting firm Deloitte India.

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