Karnataka's Higher Education Transformation Journey Has Just Begun! While STEM focus in education is important, it is equally important and necessary to focus on critical streams such as economics to build sufficient talent capacity as a nation

By Dr. Ashwath Narayan CN

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At a time when the world is going through geopolitical and economic instability, the emergence of India as an economic and political powerhouse and a force to reckon with assumes the greatest significance.

Our country is on the threshold of a major transformation with our Hon'ble PM Shri Narendra Modi steering it with his vision and masterstroke tactics. This has fast-tracked the country's progress and put India on the global competitive map. On the one hand, with the motto of ease of doing business, the government is revamping and refining older policies and launching newer ones (like the policy for the AVGC sector) to make them more relevant and valued in the current environment. On the other, there will be more and more demand for a futuristic breed of professionals with a deeper understanding of macro and microeconomics, its impact on fiscal policy, citizens' welfare, and the country's overall development.

It is no longer enough to gain deep insights into science, technology, or engineering to sustain India's accelerated growth. One needs to have a thorough and deeper understanding of the economic undercurrents that dictate any country's economic and social development, especially a country like India. While STEM focus in education is important, it is equally important and necessary to focus on critical streams such as economics to build sufficient talent capacity as a nation.

Institutions like the Dr. B. R. Ambedkar School of Economics University (BASE) in Bengaluru attempt to bridge this gap. We need to build world-class universities and institutions of eminence as it embodies the comprehensive strength of a Nation. Such educational institutions are also an absolute necessity to be a country offering a strong higher education opportunity to students.

For the last one year, Karnataka has been at the forefront of implementing the National Education Policy 2020. Our aim is to encourage our higher education institutions to compete globally and make Karnataka the best educational destination. We have accorded significant focus to research and innovation. BASE University will become an institute of excellence that will produce world-class academics, researchers, policymakers, industry experts, and analysts. We live in a world where we cannot compartmentalize higher education academics from research.

The new campus in Bengaluru is established with 13 blocks on 43.35 acres of land. The cost of the built-up area of 591,888 sq. ft. is approximately INR 250 crore under Phase-I funded by the government of Karnataka (GoK).

The BASE became a unitary university in 2019 and presently has 250 students on its roll, and the projected strength of students is planned at 1,100 by 2024-25. The university offers 3 courses by adopting the National Education Policy (NEP) vis-a-vis 5-year integrated M.Sc. Economics, 2-year M.Sc. Economics and 2-year M.Sc. Financial Economics. The plan to start a Ph.D. programme is on the anvil. The admissions are based on the Common University Entrance Test (CUET).

Very few state governments have had a rigorous and well-thought-out plan to launch a dedicated University for Economics adopting the National Education Policy 2020. We have envisioned it to develop into an autonomous institution offering the best quality education in economics. This is not an easy task. Till recently, one would blame inadequate and lack of visionary education policy for India's inability to be a global superpower in education. Now that we have the best policy to transform education, Karnataka has embraced it with open arms. We have gone way past mere tokenism in implementing the NEP. Our Education transformation journey does not stop with Economics and BASE. The world will witness Karnataka's higher education transformation in the coming years with as much curiosity and awe as it watched our Information Technology journey and transformation. There is more to come. Keep watching.

Dr. Ashwath Narayan CN

Minister for Higher Education, Electronics, IT & BT, Science and Technology, Skill Development, Entrepreneurship and Livelihood, Government of Karnataka

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