TSR Subramanian committee recently came with a draft proposal for the new education policy.

The panel has recommended significant interventions such as:

  • Amending the Right to Education (RTE) Act to bring back detention of students after Class V, and
  • Making minority schools reserve 25% seats for candidates of economically weaker sections (EWS)
  • It has called for restrictions on campus politics, and recommended extending the scope of RTE to cover pre-school education, and
  • of the Mid Day Meal Scheme to secondary education.
  • The report has criticised governments for interference in important appointments, especially that of Vice-Chancellors.

Some of the proposals of the committee have generated a lot of debate over the potential shape of the new policy.

Let’s discuss some of these policy implications along with context from the past:

  • Background of education policy in India
  • What are the key legacies of NEP I and II?
  • How has the implementation been?
  • Recommendations of the new committee
  • Analysis of the new recommendations
  • Criticism/ challenges
  • Way ahead

Background of education policy in India

  • India had two policies on education in the past- in 1968 and 1986
  • It serves as a comprehensive framework to guide the development of education in the country and offers the government of the day an opportunity to leave its imprint on the country’s education system
  • The policy provides a broad direction and state governments are expected to follow it. However, it’s not mandatory. For eg. Tamil Nadu, even today, does not follow the three-language formula prescribed by the first education policy in 1968

What are the key legacies of NEP I and II?

The 10+2+3 (10 yrs secondary school + 2 years high school + 3 yrs of undergraduate education) structure of education, and the three-language formula followed by a majority of schools are among the most enduring legacies of the first national education policy.

The prioritisation of science and mathematics in education is another.

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid Day Meal Scheme, Navodaya Vidyalayas (NVS schools), Kendriya Vidyalayas (KV schools) and use of IT in education are a result of the NEP of 1986.

How has the implementation been?

  • NEP 1986 was implemented better.
  • The government failed to bring out a proper Programme of Action, and implementation was hamstrung by the shortage of funds.
  • Education in 1968 was a State subject, and the Centre had little role in how the policy would be implemented. This led to poor implementation.
  • The second NEP came after the Constitutional Amendment of 1976 which made education a concurrent subject — and the Centre accepted wider responsibility and introduced a number of programmes in line with the policy.

Recommendations of the new committee


1) An Indian Education Service (IES) should be established as an all India service with officers being on permanent settlement to the state governments but with the cadre controlling authority vesting with the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry.

2) The outlay on education should be raised to at least 6% of GDP without further loss of time.

3) There should be minimum eligibility condition with 50% marks at graduate level for entry to existing B.Ed courses. Teacher Entrance Tests (TET) should be made compulsory for recruitment of all teachers. The Centre and states should jointly lay down norms and standards for TET.

4) Compulsory licensing or certification for teachers in government and private schools should be made mandatory, with provision for renewal every 10 years based on independent external testing.

5) Pre-school education for children in the age group of 4 to 5 years should be declared as a right and a programme for it implemented immediately.

6) The no detention policy must be continued for young children until completion of class V when the child will be 11 years old. At the upper primary stage, the system of detention shall be restored subject to the provision of remedial coaching and at least two extra chances being offered to prove his capability to move to a higher class

7) On-demand board exams should be introduced to offer flexibility and reduce year end stress of students and parents. A National Level Test open to every student who has completed class XII from any School Board should be designed.

8) The mid-day meal (MDM) program should now be extended to cover students of secondary schools. This is necessary as levels of malnutrition and anaemia continue to be high among adolescents.

9) UGC Act must be allowed to lapse once a separate law is created for the management of higher education. The University Grants Commission (UGC) needs to be made leaner and thinner and given the role of disbursal of scholarships and fellowships.

10) Top 200 foreign universities should be allowed to open campuses in India and give the same degree which is acceptable in the home country of the said university.

Analysis of the new recommendations

  • A new policy after 3 decades: The new education policy, which is coming after a gap of almost three decades, is expected to give a direction to the education sector in India which has grown in proportion but suffers from quality concerns.
  • Covers qualitative & quantitative challenges: It provides solutions to several challenges of the sector, including quality in both school and higher education, employability challenge, regulation of private education, internationalisation of higher education and a possible restructuring of education regulators like University Grants Commission and All India Council of Technical Education.
  • Open the gates: The entry of foreign institutions will help to bring the level of education in India at par with global standards.
  • Restructure UGC: UGC has become inefficient over the years due to politicization and other factors. There is a need of a complete overhaul of its organizational structure. The committee has tried to take significant steps in this direction.
  • Relook at the no detention stance: The no détention policy over the years has failed to achieve the objectives with which it was introduced. The provision of restoration of detention in upper primary stage will enable to instill the fear of exam process in students which will make them take learning and study seriously rather than just attending school.
  • Learnings from the ASER: The ASER shows the data about the poor level of learning in India. The detention is expected to improve learning outcomes in the country.
  • The barring of students from political and religious debates is expected to reduce the anarchy in the education campuses which have become very common in the present scenario.

Criticism/ challenges

  • Historically, campuses have been crucibles of leadership. College and university students are active citizens with voting rights to general, assembly and local body elections. It is absurd and even undesirable to expect them to be insulated from political ideas and debates.
  • It is doubtful if scrapping UGC or any institution is the remedy needed for India’s higher education system, according to some critics.
  • The changes suggested by the committee cannot be brought in a day or two. So thinking that the education system will be reformed in a short span of time is something imaginary and needs to be thought upon.
  • India needs to improve the amount it spent on the education if it needs to implement these changes. Considering the funds available with the sector and the shortage of manpower at various levels, it is difficult to implement these changes.

Way ahead

  • The report has tried to address all substructures of the larger pedagogical superstructure. Though it is quite ambitious in its approach, it raises valid concerns and puts forward some very important recommendations.

It contains much for ensuring a robust education system. Will this new policy be implemented? Will its recommendations solve a major educational crisis in the country, or will they become the subject of a greater political battle? The questions are yet to be answered.


Any doubts?

  1. Profile photo of Krishna Kunal Krishna Kunal

    Way ahead :-
    Instead of elimination NDP(No detention Policy) why shouldn’t we explore the Open Book Exams(OBE allow you to take notes, texts or resource materials into an exam situation)

  2. Profile photo of Krishna Kunal Krishna Kunal

Centre plans unified science syllabi

  1. News: The Centre plans on bringing about a convergence in the core syllabi of science subjects and question paper designs across State and central boards
  2. Aim: To correct the perceived lack of parity in the syllabi of Physics, Chemistry and Maths across boards
  3. Same marks for theory and practicals in science subjects is also proposed
    Board examination marks now get weight in the IIT-JEE, though this will go from the next year
  4. Many feel that the lack of parity may deny a level-playing field to students from across the country in any admission that counts Class XII marks

RTE provisions about minority educational institutions

  1. RTE: Even private, unaided schools shall provide admission to children from disadvantaged groups and weaker sections in Class-1 (at least 25%)
  2. However, private, unaided minority institutions are exempt from this requirement
  3. SC: The Supreme Court (in 2012) held that the provision did not extend to institutions set by minorities, which are defined as religious and linguistic minorities in India
  4. Disadvantaged groups (RTE): The Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes
  5. Weaker sections (RTE): A child whose parent or guardian earns below a minimum level of income specified by the appropriate government

TSR Subramanian Committee- quota for poor students in minority schools

  1. Rec: The larger national obligations to meet the rights of economically weaker sections (reservation) should extend to all institutions including minority [religious and linguistic] institutions
  2. It is now important to reconcile the rights of the economically weaker sections with the rights of the minorities under Article 30 (1)
  3. This is particularly when minority institutions appear to clutch at any prop to ensure that their obligations, met by other aided or unaided schools, are circumvented
  4. Minority institutions: It is necessary to ensure that minority institutions are established only for genuine reasons envisaged by the Constitution
  5. Also that they do not use their constitutional privilege to manoeuvre out of national obligations established in overall public interest

UGC- a historical background

  1. Established: The UGC was first formed in 1945 to oversee the work of the three Central Universities of Aligarh, Banaras and Delhi
  2. Its responsibility was extended in 1947 to cover all Indian universities
  3. Reconstituted: In 1949 a recommendation was made to reconstitute the UGC along similar lines to the University Grants Committee of the United kingdom by Radhakrishnan Committee
  4. Extended: In 1952 the government decided that all grants to universities and higher learning institutions should be handled by the UGC
  5. Statute: In November 1956 the UGC became a statutory body upon the passing of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 by the Indian Parliament
  6. Decentralisation: In 1994 and 1995 the UGC set up six regional centres at Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bhopal, Guwahati and Bangalore

A brief about UGC

  1. A statutory body set up by the Indian Union government in accordance to the UGC Act 1956
  2. Under: Ministry of Human Resource Development
  3. Responsibility: Coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education
  4. Mandate: Providing recognition to universities in India, and disbursing funds to such recognised universities and colleges

Issues with UGC

  1. The UGC’s mandate includes overseeing disbursal of grants to colleges and fellowships to students, and recognising and monitoring institutions
  2. Grants: Widespread irregularities in grant of approval of institutions and courses
  3. Quality: Concerns about the quality of education provided by a large number of colleges/ universities
  4. Responsibility: To monitor standards of education in higher education institutions and the UGC has not succeeded in ensuring this
  5. Credibility: Seriously dented by approvals given to a large number of sub-standard colleges and deemed universities
  6. HR: UGC does not have the adequate number of personnel, of requisite quality, to be an effective regulatory force in the higher education sector
  7. This was also outlined in the recent Hari Gautam committee report

TSR Subramanian Committee- UGC

  1. Context: T.S.R. Subramanian committee for a new national education policy submitted its report to Ministry of Human Resource Development
  2. Rec: The law that set up the higher education regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) be allowed to lapse as the new overarching higher education management law is enacted
  3. Why? UGC has been unable to effectively implement its regulations aimed at ensuring the quality of higher education in the country over the years
  4. Alternative: The UGC could be revamped, made considerably leaner and thinner
  5. It could be the nodal point for administration of the proposed National Higher
  6. Education Fellowship Programme, without any other promotional or regulatory function
  7. Specialised functions should be undertaken by specialised bodies

Questions (attempt in the comments section)


The T.S.R. Subramanian panel has proposed that the Colleges and universities should consider derecognising student groups based explicitly on caste and religion. Do you support this proposal? Critically comment.


An education policy will influence India’s economic, social and political future for decades to come. Critically analyze India’s post-independence education policies and suggest what should the new education policy aim for?

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