Formation of the Subramanian Committee
A 5- member Drafting Committee was constituted on October 31, headed by Shri TSR Subramanian, the ex-Cabinet Secretary, three other retired bureaucrats – Smt. Shailaja Chandra, Shri Seva Ram Sharma, Shri Sudhir Mankad – and Prof. JS Rajput, former Director, NCERT. This Committee, later officially named as “Committee For the Evolution of National Education Policy ” was expected to submit the Draft National Education Policy, and with it a Framework of Action.
This subsection section deals with the formation of the Subramanian NEP Drafting Committee on October 31, 2015, and developments between November 2015 – June 2016. It begins with the reasons for its unexpected formation, and includes another subsection on why it took far longer to submit its report than originally anticipated. It concludes with the submission of its Report on May 27, 2016.
1. Why the Original MHRD Strategy for Formulating the NEP Was Junked, and Why the Subramanian NEP Drafting Committee Was Constituted, Though It was Not Originally Planned
The drafting of the NEP, according to the original MHRD schedule prepared in early 2015, did not visualise the constituting of a Drafting Committee, beginning its work before the completion of the 6 Regional Consultations.
According to the original MHRD strategy for formulating the NEP, these 6 Regional consultations were to produce 6 consolidated Status Notes. These Notes in turn were to be converted into a single Consolidated Status Document which was to be placed before the New Education Policy Task Force (NEPTF) . The NEPTF was to convert this document into the 2015 Draft National Education Policy, which was then to placed for consideration by the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) before the end of 2015.
But by November, only the North Zone Regional Consultation had been held . And this sole regional consultation was held, despite the participating states having not completed their panchayat to state level meetings and posted their recommendations on the MyGov portal. Moreover, Only 3 states in the country had completed all its grassroots consultations.
Since 2014, the MHRD Minister, Ms.Smriti Irani, had reiterated on many occasions that the NEP Policy document would be based on extensive substate and state consultations and would be ready by December 2015. But by the end of October only 25% of the approximately 2.6 lakh nation – wide meetings from gram panchayat to state level had been held. Clearly the December deadline would have had to be indefinitely extended, if most or all the states and zone were to complete their consultations and provide their inputs for formulating the Draft NEP Report.
To meet the Union Minister’s oft – repeated December deadline for producing the NEP Policy document, MHRD decided to short-circuit the state and zonal consultations with the sudden and unexpected announcement of the Subramanian Committee with a mandate to produce a report and framework of action at the latest by December 2015.
The MHRD-constituted National Education Policy Task Force constituted in early 2015 to draft the NEP, and consisting of MHRD officials, as well as heads of apex organizations like NCERT, NUEPA and UGC, was junked. It was replaced by the Subramanian Committee with only one academic among its 5 members – a major deficiency in its constitution.
2. Why the Subramanian Committee Report Was Unable to Submit its Report by the the December 2015 Deadline
When the Subramanian Committee was constituted in October 31, 2015, the relevant MHRD official order stated that the “Drafting Committee ” will examine the outcome documents, recommendations and suggestions received and formulate a Draft National Policy, as well as a Framework of Action (FFA).The Committee may hold further consultations with experts, if that is felt necessary by them. The Committee will submit its report as early as possible but not later than 31st December, 2015”.
But when the Subramanian Committee examined the documents and recommendations received from the states and national consultations, it was far from adequate. It personally met a large number of official organisations, NGOS, networks, and experts, and invited also written recommendations. In this connection, Committee members also made a few trips outside Delhi. A full list of the organisations and individuals is provided in Volume 2 of its Report.
in the next subsection dealing with the Content of the Subramanian Committee Report, there is an analysis of the limitations of the inputs provided by the official consultations held between May 2015 – October, 2015. to the Subramanian Committee.
3.The Changing Nature of the Subramanian Committee Report – From Draft National Education Policy to the National Policy on Education
Furthermore, by an MHRD order on November 24, the Subramanian Committee was renamed as the Committee for the Evolution of the New Education Policy (NEP) reflecting ” the inclusive participative and extensive nature of the precursor level of multi-level and government level upfront consultations”.
However, by the time that the Subramanian Committee finally submitted its document to MHRD on April 30, 2016 it was entitled , ‘National Policy on Education 2016‘, of the Committee For Evolution of the New Education Policy. The accompanying letter noted that it had not included a framework of action as originally expected, since the Committee felt that ” it would be more appropriate if the implementation framework can be decided after Government considers the recommendations and the necessary policy decisions taken.”
It is unclear as to why the Subramanian Committee decided to call its document the National Policy on Education and not the Draft National Policy. However, TSR Subramanian’s public conflict with Ms Smriti Irani and the subsequent publication by MHRD of an alternative NEP document significantly downgraded the importance of the Subramanian Committee document.