It is bizarrely to know that after inauguration stone laying ceremonies in presence of public, number of essential projects which include healthcare infrastructure, extension/ construction/ widening of roads, bridges, water supply schemes, entrepreneurship development institutes, sports and education infrastructure were kept pending for decades. What they used to speak on those inaugural functions could not be reproduced; I wish I could have attended few. Nonetheless, few are being blueprinted by some local news channels including Gulshan, that Schools constructed in nineties are without roofs and Hospitals constructed years before are without doors and windows. Daily, Excelsior nicely reported that 6-storey building of the Nursing Home adjacent to the GMC Jammu was closed for years for public use after short-circuiting and seepage issue. There are many humorous stories of some vital projects which are being brought to public by the vibrant media of J & K. It took only a decade to Harvard/ Cambridge/ Stanford for its completion but Central University of Kashmir was running on rented shops for more than a decade and probably still in doldrums. What a strange and abnormal mechanism, management and stewardship. The wisdom of the government to set up Jammu and Kashmir Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (JKIDFC) to speed-up pending or languishing infrastructure development projects in J & K need to be highly regarded by one and all. These initiatives shall soon be recognized by the common people as many of the projects are in completion mode. I have watched the video of engineering marvel of twin tube tunnel around 8.45 km long (Qazigund-Banihal) and many of us will reap its fruits. Almost all major hospitals have sufficient oxygen plants and other infrastructure to meet health care challenges. All these plants are running in three shifts and they are manufacturing 2000 cubic metre oxygen daily for medical use. Hopefully, AIIMS Awantipora shall also be taken up on priority and few more medical colleges to be made operational. There are other projects which need to be completed for public as post pandemic will witness their urgent need. The JKIDFC have been transforming systems and promoting unprecedented levels of transparency by institutionalizing J&K Infrastructure Monitoring System (JKIMS). The system enables real time monitoring features like geo-tagging, image uploading facility of finished projects, dashboard for monitoring of progress thereby adding to transparency and accountability. In Jeddah (KSA), on construction sites display boards used to display days remaining for completion and progress. For more than 70 years, we were having only three Medical Colleges but within a short period of two years, the number is around 10, including Ayush. One of my neighbors once opened one medical college-PRIME, admitted even two batches of students but was later closed for unknown reasons. Thanks to Hon’ble High Court who later adjusted those students in Govt colleges and gave parents a sigh of relief after a long battle. It is all just history.
For implementation of New Education Policy, which proposes the revision and revamping of all aspects of the educational structure, including its governance, JKIDFC need to give a special attention to infrastructure needed for education, including medical? I would like to mention few:
1. For establishment of School Complexes/ Clusters, we need to construct atleast 10 class rooms, one auditorium for multipurpose use and a common hall for digital education in each complex/cluster.
Identify existing Higher Secondary/Secondary Schools (probably 25 in each in each district) to form School Complexes/Clusters, having option for expansion/extension. Each complex should be funded adequately and shall be supported by all means including maintenance /renovation of old infrastructure.
2. For restructuring of institutions in Higher Education, all colleges and universities require infrastructure to double the intake capacity of students in near future, besides need to build and strength digital education.
According to below classification, the infrastructure has to be developed as NEP has classified the existing institutions into three categories.
(i) Research universities focusing equally on research and teaching-Type A
(ii) Teaching universities focusing primarily on teaching-Type B
(ii) Degree granting colleges focused on undergraduate teaching-Type C
3. For establishment of State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), we need to have a separate campus like any university with all major offices of education including Board Office/ Examination Office/ Training Offices/ Convention offices and Guest Houses.
States/UTs shall set up an independent, State-wide body called the State School Standards Authority (SSSA). Directorate of Education to look after operations, SCERT to look academics and State School Standards Authority to set common standards for online/ offline self-disclosure by all public and private schools.
4. For MERUs, we need to have enough infrastructures for multidisciplinary education.
Setting-up of Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs) one in each district, at par with IITs, as model of best multidisciplinary education is a challenge.
5. For establishment two Interdisciplinary Science Institute which includes Science Parks, Science exhibitions and Innovation clubs.
We have once proposed, Srinagar Advanced Institute for Nanotechnology”—(SAINT), as an umbralla institution for research facilities of all universities. The motivation behind SAINT is to train young scientists in advanced and innovative research methodologies, encourage high-quality interdisciplinary research across departments, support grant proposals that effectively promote scientific research of the Institute, bridging J&K natural resources with research and industry for a sustainable scientific culture.
(The author is teaching Nanotechnology at NIT Srinagar. Views are his own)