Thursday, January 30, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Diploma hope for ‘creative’ mechanics
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
If you are “innovative and creative” but unfortunately a “school dropout”, you still can hope to get a certificate or a diploma from the government, thanks to a special scheme proposed by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, which is expected to be formalised by the middle of this year.

“The idea is not only to recognise inherent talent and traditional knowledge available but also to increase the per capita absorption of technology in the relevant sections of society,” says Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Union Minister for Human Resource Development.

“If India has to lead, it must innovate as only innovators become leaders,” feels Dr Joshi, who called on Mr Hari Jaisingh, Editor, The Tribune, last evening before flying back to the union Capital at the end of his two-day visit to the city. He said the proposed scheme was an offshoot of the National Innovative Foundation launched in March , 2000, with the sole objective of building up on resources in which many economically poor people are actually very rich.

The idea of the National Innovative Foundation occurred to him because India occupied a very low position in the per capita technology absorption. In India, it was just five persons out of every 1000 who were using absorbing technology in their daily life against 100 persons each in the USA and Australia and 80 in Japan.

“We do not lack technical or innovative hands. All that is needed is to make India an innovative and creative society and a global leader in sustainable technologies by scouting for and sustaining grassroots innovations.

“Besides linkages have to be built between excellence in the formal scientific system and the informal knowledge system and to create a knowledge network to link various stake-holders through application of information technology and other means,” he revealed.

He quoted the example of Mr Iqbal of Nagpur, who produced a steam engine on his thumbnail claiming that there were thousands of talented Indians, who because of one reason or the other, could not attend colleges or universities but have been coming out with brilliant and practical innovations to help their fellow comrades and tradesmen.

“In the year 2001, we received as many as 1,000 such innovations. And last year, this number swelled to 13,000. Almost all are original and practical. We have been helping the innovators in fine finishing or even patenting their research”.

“We are considering making the Technical Teachers Training Institute (TTTI) as the nodal agency for assessing all such innovations and benchmark them for a certificate or a diploma to be given to the innovator in recognition of his work,” said Dr Joshi, maintaining that a complete scheme of recognising such work would be announced in June.

“In one case, an ‘illiterate’ villager of Gujarat developed a system to spray pesticide by using his feet for pumping and carrying spray nozzles in both hands, thus doubling the efficiency. He approached us for guidance as a US agency wanted to buy this technology from him. Subsequently, the US company used it in toys to make millions,” he added.

Dr Joshi said that some of these “indigenous innovators” were taken to South Africa’s most backward area where they not only worked wonders but also virtually “revolutionised” agriculture there.

The foundation, he said, could lead to a silent socio-economic revolution, besides promising economic empowerment of such people. Dr Joshi admitted that social sciences research in India had been totally “directionless” and the Union Government would soon come out with a national policy in this regard.

While talking about the “saffronisation” of curriculum through NCERT books, Dr Joshi held “no one could help remove misgivings in certain sections of society”.

“When we prepared the draft curriculum, we circulated it not only to all State Councils of Education Research, state Education Ministers, Chief Ministers, MPs, leaders of regional parties represented in Parliament but also to the Editors of all leading dailies of the country inviting suggestions and amendments. We circulated as many as 3,000 copies of the draft curriculum.

“We did not receive any suggestion from any quarter. So whatever suggestions we received from SCERTs, we incorporated them and prepared the final draft after holding workshops at the State level. The NCERT also organised a meeting with the Education Ministers of the States and the Union Territories. The final document was again circulated among all. Mr S.B. Chavan acknowledged the final draft. West Bengal also responded without suggesting any fundamental change in the final draft,” he said, claiming that there was nothing in the final document which was against the NDA agenda, national policy or secularism. After a debate in Parliament, the Opposition walked out before the minister could reply, he added.

Dr Joshi said that the government was aware of the flaws in the present system of entrance tests which were theory oriented. Tuitions, he said, also needed to be banned as UP had already done so.

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