National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, by introducing agriculture, has played a visionary impact in making India self-reliant. It is also important to understand that in ancient Indian learning, agriculture was a basic practice through which the learners developed a sacred and pragmatic connection to the environment.
If we look at the state of agriculture around the world and the impact it has in raising the economy as well as supplying food to an ever-increasing population, we can definitely understand the inevitability of reforming the agricultural sector in India.
It becomes clear even when we look at the United States, where agriculture is a three-trillion dollar industry. Since India is still primarily an agricultural economy, ‘introduction to agriculture’ in the mid-school level is a brilliant idea.
‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ or Self-reliant India is the dream of every Indian to see India taking lead in global affairs. Hence, agriculture can be our greatest strength. The rise of entrepreneurship in the field of agriculture will play a pivotal role.
Moreover, agriculture should also be regarded as a proper industry providing job opportunities to the students. Rather than isolating agriculture only to a rural-based sector, steps can be made such that the youth find this sector as much fascinating as moving into any other field of work. This will also require a mindset to prepare the Indian people, especially those who live in the cities, to look at agriculture not as a withering adventure, but by encouraging and modernizing the field coming with the status quo.
The skepticism developed post eighteenth century by the industrial revolution towards nature can also be interlinked to the field of agriculture too. NEP can hence, be a chance to bridge this gap- the rather undermined sector of agriculture, which was a source of great strength to the ancient Indian civilization.
Given the rise of population, agriculture is an inevitable field and natural resources being short, one has to understand the importance of technology in this field. Hence modernizing agriculture is the primary task. So we should focus on ‘food tech’ and ‘ag-tech’- which will be extremely beneficial, provided India has a plurality of cultures and food habits which differ from each region. Occupying the market through a mapped out and planned idea will set the footsteps for India.
The importance of the role of humanities and social sciences will be inevitable to understand the complex network that Indian societies have in food habits. Hence, translations of local literature into English will be the primary task to any startup which will help to understand the local conditions and hence the development of the market.
In this regard, agriculture can be instrumental in developing an interdisciplinary field generating jobs for the students in the humanities basically- literature and philosophy, which will help generate new ideas, not to mention understand the subjectivities of the local cultures which merely sociological analysis is insufficient.
There is a need to enhance eco-critical literature for the unification of the student with nature. Arts have been playing a vital role whether in encouraging city life or celebrating nature. Since urbanization is the reality, arts can bridge the city life with nature in a holistic approach encouraging the coming generation to negotiate nature while living in the cities.
This will also provide a huge section of the humanities to be employed and hence solve the job crisis that the country is suffering. The use of Artificial Intelligence can be another crucial factor in the agricultural field. Artificial Intelligence is necessary for precision in agriculture which will help Indian farmers to predict weather conditions, not to mention other benefits of pest control and data benefits.
This will also be another network for our youths to get employed. While the entire world is going with Artificial Intelligence, its important India chose AI to enhance and revolutionize agriculture. The use of drones which will be a part of Artificial Intelligence in agriculture will be of immense benefit too.
It is worth mentioning ‘liquid nano clay’ as one of the important innovative technologies that has a potential impact in greening barren lands, especially deserts. Moreover, we see companies like ‘Desert Control’ which are providing immense hopes in countries like Dubai promising Dubai to be self-sufficient in its food production.
Hence, I believe introducing agriculture through NEP is a brilliant idea. Moreover, modern forms of farming like aeroponics, aquaponics, hydroponics, vertical farming, and tissue culture should be introduced which will encourage learners to experiment with agriculture rather than repetitive traditional farming.
It is noteworthy to build up the entrepreneurial mindset and the necessary technologies the students will get accustomed with. The Indian Government has an ineffable scope of restoring the economy though agriculture for which the base has to be set now.
(Written by Santu Neog, Assistant Professor, Shyama Prasad Mukherji College, Delhi University. The views expressed are the author’s own. Headline 8 neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)