Seven day course on Indian Economy launched at IIT Delhi

A seven-day course on Indian economics designed by the Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Dr Arvind Subramanian was launched at IIT Delhi on Sunday.

Union Finance Minister ArunJaitley and Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar jointly opened the course. The course titled Contemporary Themes in India’s Economic Development and the Economic Survey was launched under ‘Swayam’, an information technology dais that hosts Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS). The 35-hours course, spread over a week will have 5 hours lectures daily. It will touch a host of issues like GST, Universal Basic Income, Demonetization and performance of Indian states. More than 160 participants which includes students and teachers have registered for the course.

Besides crisscrossing the history of Indian economic development and the current progress, challenges and strategy going forward, it will cover these themes through the analysis presented in the Economic Surveys of the previous three years.

Among other objectives like developing an in-depth understanding of the Indian economy—its history, recent developments and impending challenges, the participants will become proficient in understanding and analyzing macroeconomic developments and policy. They will also become familiar with the current dominant thoughts and tools used for economic policy making and research.

Addressing the gathering HRD minister Mr Javadekar said: “We have all heard of ATM. This is the beginning of ATL—Any Time Learning. Currently, 350 courses are offered through this platform and 60,000 students have completed the course. A unique aspect of this programme is that its foundation was built before it was formally announced.”

The multi-learning platform, he said was equipped with lectures, tutorials, tests and interaction that anybody can acquire at any point of time/

Maintaining that ‘Swayam’ was a revolution in the making that will change the educational landscape of the country Mr Javadekar said: “Everyone cannot go to colleges and universities and so this is an important platform for such kind of students. The platform has all the ingredients—tutoring, exam and certification.”

Lauding the initiative Union Finance Minister ArunJaitley said that the Economic Survey preceded the Union Budget by a day and had been embedded with certain traditions. “The document is a realistic analysis of where we stand. In the past two years it has been drafted differently and has been acclaimed by critics all over. In addition to analyzing the present state of affairs it contains a chapter that deviates from the normal mundane analysis.”

Elucidating on the relevance of the course he said: “I am glad that Dr Subramanian has gone back to his roots as an academic and created the architecture for the new course. There should be a constant effort to communicate with the state and policy makers.”

Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian said that the main provocation for the course was the reception to the Economic Survey. The course, he said would delve into the learning and teaching in the Indian tradition and will chart out analysis and policy making process.

“In a way this is a tricky course, because besides being taught physically, it will be joined live and will also be filmed and added to MOOCS. We need an informed and engaged citizenry for policy making. There is a need to reach out to students and demystify economics.”

Our target audience he said was not necessarily the teacher or the student but a 19-20 year old young student from a tier 2 city, who is an intelligent learner but has been denied access to learning. “It is going to be a real challenge. Economics must be intense, must be fun. We will try and do it.”

Earlier giving his welcome address HRD secretary Kewal Kumar Sharma said the course on MOOCS will bring to focus the importance of online education, the scope of IT to take education to the masses and improve the quality of education.

The MOOCS course will be expanded, he said adding: “The courses have been developed starting from the 9th class to undergraduate level. The major education providers have made good use of it.”

Associate Professor, NCERT Jaya Singh, who is one of the participants, said that this was an excellent platform for understanding the government orientation towards the latest sectors of the economy. Agrees Neha Gupta from Delhi University. “I am sure this will help us understand the real time phenomenon of policy making that we can transport to our students.”

Surjit who teachers economics in Govt. Arts and Science College at Calicut in Kerala says he is looking at the course to understand the process behind the compilation of the Economic Survey.

Acting Director Prof M Balakrishnan gave the vote of thanks at the inaugural programme.