National Knowledge Commission (NKC) 2006

The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) was a high-level advisory body to the Prime Minister of India, with the objective of transforming India into a knowledge society. In its endeavour to transform the knowledge landscape of the country, the National Knowledge Commission submitted around 300 recommendations on 27 focus areas during its three-and-a-half-year term. The implementation of the NKC's recommendations are currently underway at the Central and State levels.

About National Knowledge Commission
The ability of a nation to use and create knowledge capital determines its capacity to empower and enable its citizens by increasing human capabilities. Today, India has the largest number of young people in the world (600 million below the age of 25). Following a knowledge-oriented paradigm of development would enable India to leverage this demographic advantage.

In the words of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh "The time has come to create a second wave of institution building and of excellence in the field of education, research and capability building so that we are better prepared for the 21st century." With this broad task in mind, the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) was constituted on 13th June 2005 with a time-frame of three years, from 2nd October 2005 to 2nd October 2008. As a high-level advisory body to the Prime Minister of India, the NKC was given a mandate to guide policy and direct reforms, focusing on certain key areas such as education, science and technology, e-governance, etc. Easy access to knowledge, creation and preservation of knowledge systems, dissemination of knowledge and better knowledge services were core concerns of the commission.

Terms of Reference
As per Government Notification of 13th June 2005, the following are the Terms of Reference of the National Knowledge Commission (NKC).

(a) Build excellence in the educational system to meet the knowledge challenges of the 21st century and increase India's competitive advantage in fields of knowledge.

(b) Promote creation of knowledge in S&T laboratories.

(c) Improve the management of institutions engaged in intellectual property rights.

(d) Promote knowledge applications in agriculture and industry.

(e) Promote the use of knowledge capabilities in making government an effective, transparent and accountable service provider to the citizen and promote widespread sharing of knowledge to maximize public benefit.

The overarching aim of the National Knowledge Commission was to enable the development of a vibrant knowledge-based society. This entails both a radical improvement in existing systems of knowledge, and creating avenues for generating new forms of knowledge.

Greater participation and more equitable access to knowledge across all sections of society are of vital importance in achieving these goals.
In view of the above, the NKC sought to develop appropriate institutional frameworks to:

(a) Strengthen the education system, promote domestic research and innovation, facilitate knowledge application in sectors like health, agriculture, and industry.

(b) Leverage information and communication technologies to enhance governance and improve connectivity.

(c) Devise mechanisms for exchange and interaction between knowledge systems in the global arena

The National Knowledge Commission deliberations have focused on five key areas of the knowledge paradigm – access to knowledge, knowledge concepts, knowledge creation, knowledge application and development of better knowledge services.

(A) Access to Knowledge
Providing access to knowledge is the most fundamental way of increasing the opportunities and reach of individuals and groups. Therefore, means must exist for individuals who have the ability to receive and comprehend knowledge to readily obtain it. This also includes making accurate knowledge of the state and its activities available to the general public. Certain issues that are being examined in this context by the National Knowledge Commission are:
1. Right to education
2. Language
3. Translation
4. Libraries
5. Networks
6. Portals

(B) Knowledge Concepts
Knowledge concepts are organized, distributed and transmitted through the education system. It is through education that an individual can make better informed decisions, keep abreast of important issues and trends around him or her and most importantly, question the socio-economic arrangements in a manner that can lead to change and development.
NKC's concern with many aspects of the Indian education system covers:
1. School Education
2. Vocational Education
3. Higher Education
4. Medical Education
5. Legal Education
6. Management Education
7. Engineering Education
8. Open and Distance Education
9. Open Educational Resources
10. More Talented Students in Maths and Science
11. More Quality Ph.Ds

(C) Creation of Knowledge
A nation can develop in two ways – either it learns to use existing resources better, or it discovers new resources. Both activities involve creation of knowledge. This makes it important to consider all activities that lead to the creation of knowledge directly or help in protecting the knowledge that is created. India must therefore examine issues such as:
1. Science and Technology
2. Legal Framework for Public Funded Research
3. Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)
4. Innovation
5. Entrepreneurship

(D) Knowledge Applications
Knowledge can be productively applied to promote technological change and facilitate reliable and regular flow of information. This requires significant investment in goaloriented research and development along with access models that can simplify market transactions and other processes within an industry. Initiatives in the areas of agriculture, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and traditional knowledge can demonstrate that knowledge can be very effectively applied for the betterment of the rural poor.:
1. Traditional Knowledge
2. Agriculture
3. Enhancing Quality of Life

(E) Delivery of Services
Knowledge services have the potential to simplify many different points at which citizens interact with the State. Traditionally, these points of interaction have been vulnerable to unscrupulous activities and rent-seeking. Technology provides us with an opportunity to ensure accountability, transparency and efficiency in government services. E-governance is one of the ways in which citizens can be empowered to increase transparency of government functioning, leading to greater efficiency and productivity.

The National Knowledge Commission's recommendations to the Government of India for the betterment of Higher Education.
This report of the National Knowledge Commission of the Government of India on Higher Education lays down certain guidelines for the betterment of the system. The NKC recommendations on higher education were submitted to the Prime Minister on 29th November 2006. The report focused on the need for excellence in the system, expansion of the higher education sector in the country, and providing access to higher education for larger numbers of students.
The report includes detailed recommendations under the following heads:

1. Create many more universities. The higher education system needs a massive expansion of opportunities, to around 1500 universities nationwide, that would enable India to attain a gross enrolment ratio of at least 15 per cent by 2015.

2. Change the system of regulation for higher education. The present regulatory system in higher education is flawed in some important respects. The system, as a whole, is over-regulated but under-governed. We believe that there is a clear need to establish an Independent Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE).

3. Increase public spending and diversify sources of financing. The expansion of the system of higher education is not possible without enhanced levels of financing. This must necessarily come from both public and private sources.

4. Establish 50 National Universities that can provide education of the highest standard. As exemplars for the rest of the nation, these universities shall train students in a variety of disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, basic sciences, commerce and professional subjects, at both the undergraduate and post-graduate levels.

5. The endeavour to transform higher education must reform existing institutions.

6. The system of affiliated colleges for undergraduate education, which may have been appropriate 50 years ago, is no longer adequate or appropriate and needs to be reformed. Indeed, there is an urgent need to restructure the system of undergraduate colleges affiliated to universities.

7. An expansion of higher education, which provides students with choices and creates competition between institutions, is going to be vital in enhancing accountability.

8. Education is the fundamental mechanism for social inclusion through the creation of more opportunities. It is, therefore, essential to ensure that no student is denied the opportunity to participate in higher education due to financial constraints.

9. Affirmative action. A major aim of the higher education system must be to ensure Affirmative action. A major aim of the higher education system must be to ensure that access to education for economically and historically socially underprivileged students is enhanced in a substantially more effective manner.

The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) was constituted as an advisory body to the PM to help restructure knowledge related institutions and infrastructure to meet the challenges of the 21stCentury with a focus on meeting the aspirations of the 550 million young in an increasingly global knowledge society.



NKC Consultations
(a) Working Groups: Libraries, Language, Health Information Network, Undergraduate Education,
(b) Medical Education, Legal Education, Management Education, Traditional Knowledge
(c) Workshops/Seminars: Translation, Knowledge Network, Literacy, School Education, Muslim
(d) Education, Vocational Education, Open and Distance Education, Intellectual Property Rights, Science and Technology
(e) Surveys: Innovation, Health Information Network, Traditional Knowledge Recommendations Submitted 2006
(f) Libraries
(g) Translation
(h) Language
(i) Knowledge Network
(j) Portals (Water, Energy)
(k) Right to Education
(l) Higher Education
(m) Vocational Education
(n) National Science and Social Science Foundation
(o) e-Governance

(a) Set up a National Commission on Libraries
(b) Prepare a National Census of all Libraries (c) Revamp Library Information Science (LIS) Education, Training and Research facilities
(d) Re-assess staffing of libraries
(e) Set up a Central Library Fund
(f) Modernize library management, encourage greater community participation in library management
(g) Promote Information Communication Technology (ICT) applications in all libraries
(h) Facilitate donation and maintenance of private collections
(i) Encourage Public Private Partnerships in LIS development
(j) Translation Provide impetus for developing translation as an industry
(k) Establish a store-house of information on all aspects of translation involving Indian languages
(l) Promote printed as well as virtual publication of translation studies
(m) Create and maintain various tools for translation, encourage machine translation
(n) Provide quality training and education for translators
(o) Translate pedagogic materials at all levels specifically in natural and social sciences
(p) Project Indian languages and literatures through high-quality translation
(q) Set up a national web portal on translation (r) Organize Annual National Conferences on translation
(s) Promote book launches, festivals, fellowships and prizes etc.

Introduce English, along with the first language starting from Class I in school
(a) Modify pedagogy of language learning/ teaching
(b) Train the nearly 4million school teachers regardless of expertise through vacation training programmes or other short-term courses.
(c) Induct graduates with high proficiency in English and good communication skills without formal teacher-training qualifications
(d) Develop pedagogically sound English textbooks from Class I to XII.
(e) Use all available media- audio-visual, print etc.

Knowledge Network
Interconnect all knowledge institutions throughout the country, through an electronic digital broadband network with adequate capabilities (minimum access speed of 100mbps or more) to encourage sharing of resources and collaborative research
(a) To utilize various available options including existing commercial networks
(b) The network will be based on Internet Protocol (IP), Multi-Packet Labeled Services (MPLS) technology
(c) A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) consisting of major stakeholders should manage the day to day working.

(a) Create national web-based portals for basic needs on certain key sectors such as Water, Energy, Environment, Education, Food, Health, Agriculture, Employment, Citizen Rights etc
(b) Management by a consortium consisting of representatives from a wide range of stakeholders
(c) Provide access to government held data
(d) Encourage collaborative funding
(e) Portals on Water and Energy have been developed
(f) Water Portal has been developed by Arghyam Trust, & the Energy Portal developed by TERI
(g) Proposed future portals: environment, health, citizens‘ rights, etc.

Right to Education
A legislation on Right to Education must be enforced by the central government following upon the commitment made in the Constitutional Amendment Article 21A
(a) A financial provision requiring the central government to provide the bulk of the additional funds needed to ensure the Right to Education must be there in the Central legislation,
(b) The responsibility of the Government, at different levels, must be recognized and made justiciable

Higher Education
Expand massively to around 1500 universities nationwide, that would enable India to attain a gross enrolment ratio of at least15 per cent by 2015
(a) Establish an Independent Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE)
(b) Increase public spending and diversify sources of financing
(c) Establish 50 National Universities
(d) Reform existing universities-frequent curricula revisions, course credit system etc
(e) Restructure undergraduate colleges
(f) Promote enhanced quality- upgrade infrastructure, salary differentials
(g) Ensure access for all deserving students
(h) Affirmative action

Vocational Education
Place Vocational Education entirely under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)
(a) Increase the flexibility of VET within the mainstream education system
(b) Quantify and monitor the impact of vocational education
(c) Increase resource allocation to vocational education
(d) Expand capacity through innovative delivery models
(e) Enhance the training options available for the unorganized and informal sector
(f) Enhance the training options available for the unorganized and informal sector
(g) Ensure a robust regulatory and accreditation framework
(h) Ensure proper certification
(i) Undertake a re-branding exercise

National Science and Social Science Foundation
Set up a National Science and Social Science Foundation (NS3F) which will look at all knowledge as one seamless entity
The objectives of the NS3F would include:
(a) suggest policy initiatives to make India a leader in the creation and use of new knowledge in all areas of natural, physical, agricultural, health, and social sciences.
(b) ensure that science and technology are maximally used for betterment of the lives of our people

E- Governance
Re-engineer government processes first, to change basic governance pattern for simplicity, transparency, productivity and efficiency
(a) Develop common standards and deploy common platform/infrastructure for egovernance
(b) Select 10 to 20 important services that make a critical difference, simplify them and offer them as web-based services
(c) Begin all new national programmes (like Bharat Nirman, Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, etc.) with well-engineered e-governance implementation and web interface
(d) Ensure speedy delivery, productivity and efficiency of services making them citizen centric and ensuring that the right people get the benefits

Professional Education
Recommendations on Legal, Medical and Management Education
(a) Recommendations focus on reform of regulatory structures, hiring and retaining qualified faculty, faculty training, accreditation of institutions etc
(b) In Medical Education NKC recommendations highlight the need to leverage the country‘s extensive Public Health System
(c) Coherence with international trends has been focused upon in Legal Education
(d) Recommendations on management education focus on creating management programs relevant for the Indian context and designing programs for previously unmanaged sectors

Health Information Network
Initiate Indian Health Information Network Development (IHIND) by creating a webbased network, connecting all health care establishments in both private and public sector
(a) Establish national standards for clinical terminology and health informatics
(b) Create a common electronic health record (EHR)
(c) Frame policies to promote the use of IT in health care and to provide for adequate security for citizens‘ health data
(d) Form public-private partnership for a financially viable plan
(e) Create an institutional framework for implementation
(f) Works in Process
(g) Literacy
(h) Portals (Environment, Health etc)
(i) Open and Distance Education
(j) School Education
(k) Technical Education
(l) Innovation and Entrepreneurship
(m) Intellectual Property Rights
(n) Science and Technology
(o) Agriculture
(p) Traditional Knowledge
(q) Looking Ahead
(r) Possible future areas include:
(s) Teachers training
(t) Think tanks
(u) More PhD students
(v) More Math & Science students
(w) Nanotechnology
(x) Cryptology
(y) Special Needs Education,
(z) Knowledge needs of PRIs

NKC Report to the Nation
Submitted Report to the Nation on 12thJan 2007
(a) Report contains NKC recommendations made during 2006 on nine areas
(b) PM‘s Comments: 'NKC has addressed the major problem of the "bottom of the pyramid", namely, Access. Six of its ten recommendations deal directly with access. This is consistent with the objective of building an inclusive society, the guiding principle of the government
PM‘s Comments
NKC recommendations on Libraries, Translation, Knowledge Networks, National Portals, Higher Education, and Vocational Education are timely and merit immediate attention"
"NKC should not see its role only in terms of guiding reforms in government policy. It must be involved in ensuring the implementation of its innovative ideas. It must finally serve as the lighthouse for society, showing the way forward in the knowledge century". "The Commission should take its ideas across the country and build consensus".

Wide dissemination of the NKC Report to the Nation.
(a) All recommendations and relevant information available on Website.
(b) Website content to be translated into all 23 Indian languages.
(c) Discussions around recommendations on Libraries, Higher Education, Translation, and Vocational Education underway.
(d) A series of seminars and workshops at National, Regional & Local levels are being organized.
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