Cassandra’s curse:

What is Cassandra’s curse?

Warnings, Warnings Everywhere: Why We Sometimes Ignore Looming Disasters. After a disaster happens, we want to know, could something have been done to avoid it? Did anyone see this coming?

Many times, the answer is yes. There was a person — or many people — who spotted a looming crisis and tried to warn those in power. So why didn’t the warnings lead to action?

You can think of climate change, the economic consequences of the lockdown, inadequate preparation for the future, the initial stages of the Corona pandemic ( especially the US response), ….

Robert Malthus in 1798 drew attention to the fact that human populations grow exponentially  while the growth of the food supply and other resources needed to support a population is linear, and that this would lead to a catastrophe. Malthus believed there were two types of “checks” that in all times and places kept population growth in line with the growth of the food supply: “preventive checks”, and “positive checks”, which lead to premature death such as disease, starvation and war, resulting in a Malthusian catastrophe, that would bring the population to a lower, more sustainable, level.

The Club of Rome report “ Limits to Growth” in 1972 made the same point on the basis of a Mathematical model by Donella H Meadows, Dennis L Meadows, Jorgen Randers and William W. Behrens III, representing a team of 17 researchers. It was also criticised rather than serving as a wake up call. 

Around the same time, in the 1970s the famous futurist Alvin Toffler said that “ the illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and re-learn”. Having ignored this, we now have India’s demographic dividend transformed into a demographic catastrophe. 

One answer is the Cassandra’s curse? . The Cassandra metaphor (variously labeled the Cassandra “syndrome“, “complex“, “phenomenon“, “predicament“, “dilemma“, “curse“) occurs to one, when one’s valid warnings or concerns are disbelieved by others.

The term originates in Greek mythology. Cassandra was a daughter of Priam, the King of Troy. Struck by her beauty, Apollo provided her with the gift of prophecy, but when Cassandra refused Apollo’s romantic advances, he placed a curse ensuring that nobody would believe her warnings. 

Cassandra was left with the knowledge of future events, but could neither alter these events nor convince others of the validity of her predictions.

Link to Wikipedia article:

The curse of Karna….  is a similar construct. His Guru Pharshuram curses Karna that “You will forget all your knowledge when you need it the most”. 

There is a similar curse on Nakul and Sahadeva, the youngest of the 5 Pandavas. Like his brother Sahadeva, Nakula could see the future and issue prophecies. However, soon after telling the prophecy, Nakula would completely forget all the visions and predictions, just like a dream. Sahadeva was a great astrologer as his brother Nakula, and he even knew about everything including the Mahabharata battle beforehand. But he was cursed that if he disclosed the events to anyone then his head would split into pieces.

It is a worldview that the world consists of opposite. The famous Physicist Paul Dirac had predicted in 1928 from his famous equation and the existence of electrons, that there should be particles he named positrons. Carl Anderson experimentally observed positrons in 1932. Today Positron Emission Tomography ( PET) is a very important imaging tool for medical diagnostics. 

So, if there is a Cassandra’s curse, there is also the “anti-Cassandra” curse: being always believed:

It is well known that Cassandra was cursed so that her prophecies would never be believed. But there exists also an opposite curse affecting charismatic leaders who are always believed by their followers. In the long run, leaders are deluded into believing themselves infallible and the results are often disastrous. We could call that the “anti-Cassandra” curse.

People are easily duped into following charismatic leaders, as it is well known. But, while the psychology of adepts is not so difficult to understand (we all may fall in the trap, at least occasionally), it is less clear what passes in the minds of leaders. Do they really believe that they are as smart and powerful as they present themselves to their followers? Or are they consciously misleading their adepts for personal gains? Of course, both possibilities may be true in different circumstances, but  in many cases, the leader is even more deluded than the followers.

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What is a Faustian bargain?

What is a Faustian bargain?

The legend of Faust is a thought-provoking tale from the middle ages, which has a surprising connection to our world today. The story is both inspiring and tragic at the same time. In one famous version of the tale from Goethe, Faust is an idealist scholar that becomes disillusioned with his limits to knowledge. Bored and suicidal, Faust becomes the target of the devil Mephistopheles who says he can satisfy Faust’s desire for unlimited knowledge and also promises him youth, pleasures of the flesh, and magical powers—for a predetermined period. In exchange, after the allotted time, the devil will claim Faust’s soul and forever be enslaved. The story of Faust has become a metaphor for a promise or tradeoff that at first seems appealing, but with time is revealed to be a bad bargain.

I am drawing attention to some aspects of modern life, that on closer reflection seem like Faustian bargains. You might see many more around you.

Is life extension today, a Faustian bargain:

Video (  14 minutes) Scott Dewing: Our Faustian bargain with Technology :

Video ( 13 minutes) of Dr Anthony Grayling on AI and the Faustian bargain:

For the curious, here are a few more interesting resources. And of course you may do your own research and find others. You are welcome to share any that you think are worth sharing. 

1: Article from Encyclopedia Britannica :

2: Wikipedia article :




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Lunchtime Learning with WhatsApp:

L2W2: Lunchtime learning with WhatsApp 

Schedule of courses for September 2020: 

Monday 7th to Friday 11th : WLL01:  Learning with WhatsApp, other mobile Apps and MOOCs

Monday 14th to Friday 18th :Learning 321: Education in the 3rd decade of the 21st Century

From Monday 21st to Friday 25th :MSAI : Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence

Course details: 

WLL01: Learning with WhatsApp, other mobile apps and MOOCs:

Learning 321: Education in the 3rd decade of the 21st Century :

WLL05: MSAI: Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence:

Course access and delivery model: 

  • A couple of days before the scheduled start of the course, a WhatsApp group will be created with the participants of the course as members. The group formation is not contingent on a minimum number enrolled. Even if there is only one person enrolled for a particular slot of a course, the course will be delivered to that person. 
  • I will be making a number of posts during the scheduled time slot of 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm. These posts may be in the form of text, images of PowerPoint slides, my audios, my videos or curated videos of others…
  • About 10 minutes before the scheduled time of my posts I will post a message to the effect that the session is about to begin
  • If any course participant  has a query, question or observation, they may go ahead and make it right there. If this concerns the whole group, please make it in the group. If it is meant as a message to me, then please send me a direct message rather than posting it in the group.
  • If I can make a quick short and effective response, without losing the thread of the conversation, I will respond right then, else I will pool all these and make a special post in response. 
  • Towards the end of the session I will share the PowerPoint slides as a pdf file that can be used in ways that the learners find convenient.
  • You may keep posting your queries and comments even after the scheduled time for my posts is over. All the posts and conversations ( including audio) will remain with you until you consciously and deliberately delete them. This is the greatest advantage of this method 

Enrolment and fee payment: 

  • As the courses are being delivered through WhatsApp the enrolment process is simply that of sending a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724. 
  • The fee for each of the above courses is Rs 2500/- and can be easily remitted through PayTM to MM Pant ( mobile number : +919810073724).
  • For those who would rather pay into a Bank account, the relevant information is : 
  • Madan Mohan Pant
  • HDFC Bank, Unitech Cyber Park, Sector 39, Gurgaon 

        A/c 26451000000301


  • (The account number is 26451 followed by six zeroes followed by 301)

The schedule for October 2020 will be announced around mid-September 2020. 

To know more, please send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724

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Let’s Learn Together:

Learning 321: 

In preparation for the 3rd decade of the 21st Century, I am building an appropriate model of learning. It’s key features are self-directed learners and educators who are lifelong learners functioning as a learning community. And instead of compulsory or mandatory education,a shift  to serendipitous learning. We hope to build a community of eager learners who learn very well, and will therefore familiarise themselves with Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchains and other relevant techniques to transform education to overcome its big challenges. 

Some of these ideas are detailed in my blog :

We will start our activities, from coming Friday 4th September, and hope to be in a steady state from January 2021. 

The 4 topics planned for September 2020 are :on Friday 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th are: 

  • What is worth learning ?
  • What is a Faustian bargain?
  • What is Cassandra’s curse? 
  • What is complexity?

The detailed plan is given in the blog to which the link has been given above: 

If you want to be part of this, you may use this link to join my WhatsApp group created for this purpose :

Feel free to share this with others……let’s learn together.

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My response to the New Education Policy 2020:

My response to The New Education Policy 2020:

1: Vision :is transforming India into a global knowledge superpower.

 2: The key overall thrust will be on learning how to learn – and away from the culture of rote learning as is present today.

 3: Teachers shape the future of our children.

 4: Equitable and Inclusive Education: Learning for All

 5: Towards a More Holistic Education

  6: This policy has been formulated at a time when Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged. AI will be able to match or outperform – and therefore be a valuable aid to – even skilled professionals……

   7: Increasing Gross Enrolment Ratio to 50 percent by 2030. This has implications for School education. During the last 4 or 2 years at School, the student must make the transition to a self-directed learner who can make choices and take responsibility for his/her learning. 

   8: A very important element of the future model of education is the role of parents. This is acknowledged in the initial part of the NEP2020 document. 

“1.1. Over 85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs prior to the age of 6, indicating the critical importance of appropriate care and stimulation of the brain in a child’s early years for healthy brain development and growth.”

That is why I have often said that the home is the first school, the mother’s lap the first classroom and the mother is the most important and effective teacher. 

An educated mother is therefore the best assurance of a child’s holistic development in the foundational years. As universal secondary education  is achieved, almost all parents ( with appropriate  online remote training modules) will be able to fulfil the learning needs of their own children at the school stage. 

And when the GER of 50% is achieved, all parents will be able to build self-learning capabilities and life-long learning dispositions in their children. A desire to learn, and the mindset and capabilities to learn very well. 

The paradigm of the Kothari education commission (1964) that ‘ the destiny of India is now being shaped in her classrooms’ would have changed to the new paradigm of ‘ the destiny of India is in the hands of its children, their teachers and parents’.

India would be ready for its rightful place in the comity of “knowledge economies”. 


My articles on related topics:

1: 10 Corollaries to the New Education Policy 2020:

2: A paradigm shift in education :


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Let’s Learn together:

Let’s Learn Together:

About 110 years back, Charles Eliot, the President of Harvard University, compiled and edited a 51 volume anthology of classic works from world literature. In his speeches he had said that the elements of a liberal education could be gained by spending 15 minutes a day from a collection of books that could fit on a five foot shelf. The publisher P.F.Collier and son exhorted Eliot to develop this collection of works, and the Harvard Classics was the result. 

In due course, this became available as a set of DVDs:

As we enter the third decade of the 21st Century at the intersection of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the 4th education revolution, the young have to be technically sound with the mental dispositions that result from a good liberal education. Robert A Aoun, President of the Northeastern University proposed an education in “humanics” as the descriptor of a Robot-proof education. 

The New Education Policy 2020 refers to the need for multidisciplinary education, rather than a following a narrow single discipline, the need for learning to learn and……..

Towards these goals of a world class multidisciplinary education, I have created the following program suited to the learners of the 3rd decade of the 21st Century. While Eliot had kept 15 minutes a day as the time needed, I am proposing about 20 minutes a day, of not just reading text, but watching videos or hear audios…a multiple media mix. 

Schematics of my program:

In September 2020: 20 minutes/week ( on Fridays) [ 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th] 

In October 2020: 20 minutes twice a week ( on Mondays and Fridays) 

In November 2020: 20minutes thrice a week ( on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) 

In December 2020: 20 minutes 4 times a week ( on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays) 

From January 2021: 20 minutes 5 days a week ( Monday to Friday) 

The topics for each day would be in one of the following broad domains: 

  • Information and Communication Technologies ( ICT) including Quantum Computing
  • BioTechnology including Quantum Biology
  • Cognitive Sciences including Neuroscience
  • Philosophy, Literature and Life
  • Inspirational excerpts from biographies, autobiographies and obituaries

In the first few months, there may not be a set pattern to the appearance of the topics within the domains, but from January 2021, one day of the week would be devoted to each domain. 

The 4 topics planned for September 2020 are : every Friday

  • What is a Faustian bargain?
  • What is Cassandra’s curse? 
  • What is worth learning ?
  • What is complexity?

The 9 topics planned for October 2020 are : every Monday and Friday

  • What is the Midas touch? 
  • What is Occam’s Razor? 
  • What is abiogenesis?
  • What is a fallacy?
  • What is a Fermi problem/ estimate?
  • What is narcissism?
  • The Yaksha Prasna
  • What are vanity metrics?
  • 55 words of inspiration 

The 13 topics planned for November 2020 are: on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

  • Questioneering
  • Design Thinking
  • Utilitarianism
  • What is a paradox?
  • Religion without revelation
  • The importance of emotional intelligence
  • The idea of justice?
  • On being the right size?
  • What is consciousness
  • Knowledge Representation
  • The significance of Computational Thinking
  • Overcoming Maths Phobia
  • Brain Computer Interface

The 18 topics planned for December 2020  : on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays

  • Tragedy of the Commons
  • What is DNA and why it matters?
  • What is Epigenetics?
  • The importance of Ikigai
  • The Science of information
  • What is life?
  • What is a low hanging fruit?
  • What is thinking out of the box?
  • What is IoT ( Internet of things)?
  • What is 5G?
  • What is Blockchain?
  • What is Quantum Computing?
  • What is disruptive innovation?
  • What is FOMO ( fear of missing out)?
  • What is ‘freemium’?
  • What is ‘sui generis’ 
  • What is ‘ swarm intelligence’?
  • What is the ‘ Gig economy’?
  • This is a tentative sequence of topics. It may be tweaked as new ideas and suggestions keep coming up……
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A paradigm shift in education:

“A paradigm shift in education”

The phrase ‘paradigm shift’ gained prominence from the well known book (1962)  by Thomas Kuhn “ The structure of Scientific Revolutions” which challenged the earlier view that Science progressed almost linearly as “development-by-accumulation” of accepted facts and theories. Kuhn argued for an episodic model in which periods of conceptual continuity, which Kuhn referred to as periods of ” normal science”, were interrupted by periods of revolutionary science. 

Kuhn’s view was  that a ‘paradigm shift’ was not a logically determinate procedure. He took the example of the Copernican revolution to make his point. The Darwinian theory of evolution of species and Alfred Wegener’s theory of tectonic plates are similar paradigm shifts as are Quantum principles. 

Clayton Christensen went beyond the focus on Scientific Research and referred to similar trends in innovation as ‘incremental’ and ‘disruptive’. 

In the field of education and learning we are witnessing two major revolutions, the 4th Industrial Revolution which was heralded by Prof Klaus Schwab at the World Economic Forum in January 2016 and the 4th education revolution, which is the title of a 2018 book by Sir Anthony Seldon. I strongly urge all educators to read this book. Fundamental paradigm shifts in the education and learning domain are therefore inevitable. And like the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back, we had this unexpected pandemic. 

There are several manifestations of this paradigm shift, but in this post, I will confine myself to a few important elements. 

Students and teachers are the primary stakeholders in any educational system. The parents of young learners also have an important role, and they are learners too as lifelong learners. This is in the spirit of Occam’s razor. Everything else is overheads. 

The first paradigm shift is the transformation of the disinterested and passive learner ( who has to be compulsorily educated to acquire minimum levels of learning) to an active self- motivated and self-directed learner with an immense curiosity and a virtually insatiable appetite for learning that lasts a lifetime. For such a learner, learning has changed from a spectator sport to a participative one. Such a learner has many more opportunities for learning, going beyond the confines of the classroom.

This transition will not be an instantaneous binary on/off type, but somewhat graded and gradual over time during which the learner progresses over several levels. 

In 1997 David Nunan had proposed a scheme of five levels for encouraging learner autonomy in relationship to use of learning materials. He labelled these 5 levels as : awareness, involvement, intervention, creation and transcendence. 

In the year 2020, I have created another framework for 5 levels of autonomous learners, and also listed the set of 10 skills expected at each level. I am sharing that set of skills towards the end of this post.

I have included in this list of skills, the abilities to deploy artificial Intelligence tools and Apps  to engage in self-directed learning. I am proposing the following levels of an autonomous learner. This structure is analogous to the levels of self-driving cars approved by the Society of Automobile Engineers ( SAE). 

Level 0: No self-learning disposition or ability

Level 1: Some inclination towards self-learning and core abilities of self-learning

Level 2: An autonomous learning system that supports the learner but can be superseded by the human educator ( an AI fluent SmartEducator) 

Level 3: The Autonomous learning enabling system requests to be superseded by the human educator ( an AI fluent SmartEducator)

Level 4: A fully autonomous learner that can function well in limited domains ( cognitive geo-fencing) 

Level 5: Fully autonomous learner with the right dispositions and skills

The second element is the educator.

The most important quality desirable in  a modern educator is one of being a lifelong learner. Educators are learners that develop other learners. An appreciation that transferring  the knowledge of subjects is less important than fostering a desire to learn and the ability of learning to learn, and building of learning power. 

Sir Anthony Seldon called on educators everywhere to open their eyes to the fast approaching revolution in Artificial Intelligence, and asked if we are ready to embrace this revolution and shape AI to the best advantage of education and humanity as a whole. The impact of AI is acknowledged in the NEP2020. “23.8. This policy has been formulated at a time when an unquestionably disruptive technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged. As the cost of AI-based prediction falls, AI will be able to match or outperform – and therefore be a valuable aid to – even skilled professionals such as doctors in certain predictive tasks. “

But adopting  the Ostrich policy, it ignores readying it’s educators to use it in educational applications. However like the Giraffe, we wish to stick out our neck to see what’s coming, and prepare ourselves for that. Inspired by Newton who said that “ If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”, we are building on the foundations already laid down by others. 

Anthony Seldon in his book referred above has said that Artificial Intelligence will significantly transform education, and that educators should take a lead in the deployment of AI in education. In analogy to the 5 levels of the learner, I have proposed 5 levels of the future ready educators. 

These are : 

Level 1: Progressive Educators

Level 2: SmartEducators

Level 3: AI-familiar SmartEducators

Level 4: AI-fluent SmartEducators

Level 5: AInEd Evangelist 

Descriptors have been created for each of these 5 levels, and training programs have been developed for three of these levels. 

To be at Level 1, the educator seeks knowledge and information on Educational innovation including pedagogies, good practices and uses digital resources to keep up with the changing paradigms of education. 

To reach Level 2, of SmartEducator I have created a suite of 4 one weeklong programs that can be comfortably pursued using WhatsApp with mobile phones in  one month. These are : 

WLL09: Becoming an Independent Educator

WLL10: WhatsApp for Educators

WLLL11: Artificial Intelligence based Teaching-Learning 

WLL12: Educational Leadership in the age of Artificial Intelligence 

At this stage, most educators, especially those who do not have an irrational fear of computers would want to learn about AI in some depth and try their hands working with AI applications in education, and even developing some new AI based educational solutions themselves. 

To be at Level 3, there is a 3 month program with the following monthlong courses: 

AIFSE01: The Landscape of AI and education 

AIFSE02: From Data to Learning algorithms

AIFSE03: Deep Learning for educators 

At the end of the first term, having done these 3 courses and some hands on activities, they are ready to become “AI-familiar SmartEducator”. 

Those who are now motivated and excited to learn more and at depth, will pursue the following three courses during the term :

AIFSE04: Mathematics for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

AIFSE05: Learning to learn AI/ML

AIFSE06: Flourishing and thriving as an educator in the Gig economy 

Having done all the 6 courses as well as a project of AI application in education, they will qualify for “ AI-fluent SmartEducator”. 

The 5th level of AInEd Evangelist is achieved by being a Practioner in the field for a few years, and having written books, delivered training programs, workshops etc. to help spread AI awareness amongst educators. Both educators who have become adept in AI technologies and AI professionals who are interested in education and have applied themselves towards learning interventions will comprise membership of this category. 

Having described in detail, the levels of the educator, it is now time to share the full list of dispositions and skills at each level of learner autonomy. Here is a framework that is ” Made in India, but made for the world”. 

Level 5: (10 skills) Fully autonomous learner with the right dispositions and skills

  • Developing foresight
  • Identify Self-learning needs 
  • Set self learning goals
  • Effective Decision making
  • Research competence 
  • Ability to teach others 
  • Developing dispositions for success
  • Avoiding stupidity
  • Ideas: their creation and dissemination 
  • Computational Thinking

Level 4: (10 skills) A fully autonomous learner that can function well in limited domains ( cognitive geo-fencing) 

  • Identify your own learning needs
  • Set learning goals to address those needs
  • Identify experts and mavens in your domain to follow and get inspiration from
  • Curate appropriate resources to achieve your learning goal. 
  • Process the knowledge resources to achieve your learning goal
  • Apply appropriate learning strategies
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Empathy
  • Finding your Ikigai
  • Evaluate the outcomes of your learning

Level 3: (10 skills) The Autonomous learning enabling system requests to be superseded by the human educator ( an AI fluent SmartEducator)

  • Cognitive Flexibility
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Complex problem solving
  • First principles
  • Social Learning/ Peer Learning 
  • Multitasking
  • Information Management
  • Team orientation 
  • Attention to detail
  • Digital presence and communication 

Level 2: ( 10 skills) An autonomous learning system that supports the learner but can be superseded by the human educator ( an AI fluent SmartEducator) 

  • Using mind maps
  • Learning agility: learning, unlearning and re-learning
  • Ultralearning
  • Google search skills
  • Using AI apps for better learning: text to speech, speech to text, machine translation
  • Learning from YouTube
  • Using an app to get the text of an audio or video narration
  • Grit : determination to overcome one’s barriers to learning 
  • Open mindedness
  • Knowing your element

Level 1: (10 skills) Some inclination towards self-learning and core abilities of self-learning 

  • Creative thinking
  • Critical thinking
  • Fact checking
  • Effective learning techniques
  • Time Management 
  • Avoiding/ overcoming procrastination 
  • Learning from WhatsApp 
  • Learning from other mobile Apps
  • Learning from MOOCs
  • Enhancing the span of attention (focus) 

Level 0: No self-learning disposition or ability

Finally the third important element of this paradigm shift is the role of parents. 

This is acknowledged in the initial part of the NEP2020 document. 

“1.1. Over 85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs prior to the age of 6, indicating the critical importance of appropriate care and stimulation of the brain in a child’s early years for healthy brain development and growth.”

That is why I have often said that the home is the first school, the mother’s lap the first classroom and the mother is the most important and effective teacher. 

An educated mother is therefore the best assurance of a child’s holistic development in the foundational years. As universal secondary education  is achieved, almost all parents ( with appropriate  online remote training modules) will be able to fulfil the learning needs of their own children at the school stage. And when the GER of 50% is achieved, all parents will be able to build self-learning capabilities and life-long learning dispositions in their children. A desire to learn, and the mindset and capabilities to learn very well. 

The paradigm of the Kothari education commission (1964) that ‘ the destiny of India is now being shaped in her classrooms’ would have changed to the new paradigm of ‘ the destiny of India is in the hands of its children, their teachers and parents’.

India would be ready for its rightful place in the comity of “knowledge economies”. 


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10 Corollaries to the New Education Policy 2020:

Corollaries to the NEP 2020: 

A corollary is something that naturally follows from a proposition. In Mathematics for example, the cosine law can be used to find the third side of a triangle if we know the lengths of two adjacent sides and the angle between them. The Pythagoras theorem is a corollary of this law if the angle in question is a right angle. 

Corollaries are not only in Mathematics. When Shelley says “ if winter comes, can spring be far behind” he is also drawing a corollary from the known patterns of movement of the earth round the sun. 

A policy such as the New Education Policy 2020 would naturally be followed by a detailed program of action, and maybe a few amendments of the policy. 

The corollaries that I am listing here are what may be seen as inevitable consequences of its goals, in a broad sense rather than the details of its implementation. 

I am for now limiting myself to just 10 corollaries, and more will occur as we delve deeper into the implications of the New Education Policy 2020. 

Corollary 1: It follows from India’s vision ( stated in para 0.14) and ambition of striving to be a knowledge superpower, that its citizens must become knowledge seekers with an entrepreneurial disposition to develop knowledge products, in contrast to the erstwhile agricultural, manufacturing or services, which while continuing to be present, will give way to the more valuable Knowledge products. In a knowledge economy, the raw material is knowledge, the skill is knowledge processing and the final product is also knowledge.  The alchemist who will transform the existing ill prepared youth from being liabilities to assets in the fourth Industrial Age is the educator. 

It is therefore imperative that a significant proportion of educators at both the School and higher education stages are well versed in AI and it’s impact and  are not helpless passive observers but the active agents leading the  transformation. 

Corollary 2: NEP recommends lifting rigid restrictions on the subjects that a student can study at a given stage. Since most of the restrictions arise because of logistic constraints of space, time and other physical resources, it follows that the only way to achieve this goal is a purely 100% digital learning and evaluation ecosystem. I have experienced this 60 years back when for my Senior Cambridge examinations, I wanted to pursue both Physics and English Literature, and was explained the scheduling constraints that could not permit this, although the Principal agreed that I could have learnt both the subjects well. In the 1980s, as adviser to the Allahabad University for development of its computerised admissions and examination systems, I tried to find out the academic principles that determined the various 3 subject combinations for B.A., B.Sc, and B.Com. There were none. The combination of subjects was determined by the availability of rooms and faculty. And when the IGNOU was created, it espoused that one could study Physics with Philosophy. It has several constraints today, because it is not yet a fully online learning environment. Here is an extract from its BA programme guide: “In addition to the language core courses, the BA programme has eight core courses from any two disciplines of your choice. Currently, twelve disciplines of the School of Social Science, School of Humanities and School of Sciences are part of the BA programme. It is important to note here that the two disciplines you have opted to study in the first semester/year of the programme will have to be studied in the subsequent semesters/years of the programme to complete the required number of Core and Discipline Specific Elective courses of the BA programme. You cannot change the disciplines of study in the second or third year of the programme.” And this is an “ Open University” now open for about 35 years. 

The New Education Policy therefore has a consequence of creating a modern 21st Century education that is fully digital and accessible 24×7, frm School to higher education. And the primary mode of access will be through the mobile.

Corollary 3: Since the goal is to achieve a GER of 50% by the year 2030, ( para 10.7) it is imperative that the last 4 years at the Secondary school stage are used to transform the learner from a passive learner to an active learner. The teaching-learning model would need to change from the traditional pedagogy in the early years to Heutagogy at the Secondary stage. We have to stop infantilising our youth. It is not enough to teach coding at the School stage. Information technologies are now past the stage of traditional procedural algorithms, to learning algorithms and now to Quantum algorithms. Developments like GPT3 ( have almost sounded the death knell of low level code plumbers in any language.  The students while in classes 9 to 12 need to be introduced to the Quantum world in both Quantum Computing and the emerging area of Quantum Biology. This is in alignment to the announcement of substantial allocations in this year’s budget to Quantum Technologies. 

Corollary 4: It follows that the middle school stage of classes 6,7 and 8 is used to build ‘learning power’ and reduction of the repertoire of learning skills at the earlier stages. Building learning power will equip these young learners to become autonomous self-directed learners. Exposure to Computational Thinking and design thinking that have been referred to in the Policy help in building learning power. 

Corollary 5: Just like in the case of self-driving cars, the regulators have approved 5 levels, self-directed learners may also be at different levels. If we treat autonomous learning as a skill similar to a language skill, we may use the 9 bands like in the IELTS framework or the 6 levels like in the CEFR. Or we could draw an analogy to a learning maturity level like the 5 levels of the CMM framework. The skill of Ultralearning will be essential at the topmost levels of being an Autonomous learner. This has interesting consequences for the cost of education. The more a learner can learn on one’s own, the less the cost of education. The more external help needed for learning, the higher the cost of education. There will therefore be an economic value to developing learning power. 

Corollary 6: It is acknowledged in para 23.8 of the policy that this policy is being formulated when disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence are ready to transform education. It is important that all educators are conversant and familiar with these technologies, and some are fluent with them. The adoption of technology in education should be spearheaded by educators, as suggested by Anthony Seldon in his recent book “ The fourth Education Revolution”. 

Corollary 7: The issue of languages has been referred to at several places (4.9,4.10,4.11…..)  in the NEP document. As a matter of fact this has been resolved in an earlier 2014 document with a foreword by the PM. This is “India 2035” brought out by the Department of Science and Technology, where on page 31 it states “ Schools, colleges and universities as currently constituted will be redundant in 2035. Instead, we will have institutions of learning that are virtual/meta/open in character. …..All learners would be able to study in the language of their choice, thanks to cheap real-time translations services.”

Corollary 8: Often a significant barrier to the spread of digital learning has been identified as the lack of appropriate technical infrastructure. The most appropriate digital access device is the mobile phone.UNESCO has for the past eight years been holding a Mobile Learning week to discuss the potential of the mobile phone for universal access to learning. The online edition of Mobile Learning Week 2020 will be held from 12 to 15 October 2020. It will facilitate the sharing of experiences drawn from the COVID-19 education response, and explore emerging issues relating to technology enabled futures of education and learning. India already has a very high mobile phone density and is growing very fast. We first learnt to use the mobile, and we will now use the mobile to learn, through WhatsApp, other mobile apps and MOOCs which are also available as apps. 

A corollary of the NEP2020 is therefore “ first you learnt to use the mobile;then you use the mobile to learn”. 

Corollary 9: It is stated at para 0.13 that the principles on which this policy is based are: flexibility, for learners to choose their learning trajectories and programmes, no hard separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, to ensure the integrity and unity of knowledge and eliminate harmful hierarchies among, and silos between, different areas of learning. Information theory becomes the common thread….in interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary studies…. Information theory can provide answers to profound complex questions. What is the information content of the genome? The human brain? A black hole? The universe? Time and again, the concepts and laws of information reveal breathtaking insights into the workings of nature, even as they lay the foundation of astounding new technologies.

Corollary 10: The roots of Artificial Intelligence lie in the Turing test. Seventy years after it was proposed, we should embrace its spirit and the role of the National Testing Agency, could be certifying the learning outcomes achieved irrespective of the learning path or trajectory  pursued. The management of such credentials could be as digital badges if they are not high stake or through Blockchains if they are more high stake valuable credentials. The issue of limited seats in any educational Institute thus becomes redundant. Commercialisation opportunities in education will happen only by better ways of supporting the learner, and not because of capacity limitations. 


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Learning 321:

Learning 321: Education for the 3rd decade of the 21st Century:


I use the term Learning 321 to convey two ideas. The first is the last steps of   a countdown…..just before liftoff. This is a response to Anthony Seldon’s statement in his recent book “ The fourth education revolution” that there have been only 3 revolutions in education in the past 3 to 5 million years of human existence. The next one is ready to take off…..driven by Artificial Intelligence and allied technologies. And this revolution should be rightly shaped by educators : at School, College and University. 

We are entering what is often called the information, knowledge, creative or innovation economy. One of the characteristics of such an era is that the ‘frontiers of knowledge’ are expanding at an accelerating pace, and the only way to cope with this ‘future shock’ is the right approach to learning. 

Children who are studying at School today will be adults ready for further education or to face the world in the years from 2020 to 2030 and beyond. 

This is the 3rd decade of the 21st Century and is a very different world from the one experienced by their grandparents,parents and teachers. 

Their future is being shaped by two major forces: the 4th Industrial Age driven by Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and allied technologies like the Internet of Things, Blockchain, 3D Printing, AR and VR, and the 4th education revolution which is disrupting the traditional education model, propelled by the same technologies.

This leads to two very important questions. The first is what should a child learn in School to prepare for an Age of intelligent assistants that can fetch any information and do low level cognitive tasks, and the consequential question as to how do we teach what should be taught. 

It is often said that change is the only thing that remains constant. But what we are experiencing is the rapid rate of the change itself. And it’s wider impact, across almost all fields of human endeavour. 

Trying to accurately predict the future is futile. Perhaps becoming intelligent enough to build a perfect future is too. We must develop foresight and ready ourselves  by being a pro-active self directed lifelong learner and defensively by building skills of critical thinking and discernment to prevent us from being swayed by misinformation. As John Holt has suggested, we need to develop the curiosity to want to know new things, and the ability to learn really well, anything that one sets out to learn. 

This is the true objective of a good education at the School stage: to prepare children to prosper, flourish and thrive in an unknown and rapidly changing future. 

We are at a turning point, for education, similar to what the IITs did during the 1960s. When the IITs were created in the country, in the 1960s there was a long and significant tradition of Engineering education from Guindy College of Engineering, Thomason College of engineering to Banaras Engineering College, but the IITs transformed engineering education fundamentally. There were many innovative features in the IIT system, and they benefitted from International partnerships with various countries, and several Institutions within those countries. 

The IITs were created in the 1960s and their graduates were future ready having been transformed from slide-rule wielding engineers to engineers who were computer ready and suited to flourishing in the coming 3rd Industrial Age, which in Prof Klaus Schwab’s timeline began in the 1970s. 

Now that we are in the 4th Industrial Age driven by Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies, its fruits need not be only for a few, but we have truly an ocean of opportunities for anyone with the grit, tenacity and perseverance to be a self-reliant learner. With data and tools accessible through the cloud almost anywhere through the Internet, learning is more democratised. World class education is truly in one’s hands today. 


The landscape of Learning 321 can be visualised as 5 zones:

  • Zone 1 : Learning Disrupted
  • Zone 2: Anticipating the future
  • Zone 3: Emerging Technologies in education
  • Zone 4: The Science of Learning
  • Zone 5: Artificial Intelligence in education 

Learning 321?

Zone 1: Learning Disrupted

1.1: Independent educators and Autonomous learners

1.2: Co-learning spaces ( physical and virtual)

1.3: Learning Communities and Braided Learning

1.4: Learning as a Service ( unbundling of educational services) 

1.5: Mobile Learning with MOOCs and OERs

Zone 2: Anticipating the future

2.1:The importance of anticipating the future

2.2:Developing Foresight

2.3:The world in 2030

2.4:The world in 2050

2.5: The Singularity

Zone 3: Emerging Technologies in education

3.1:Blockchains in education

3.2:Augmented Reality in education 

3.3:Virtual Reality in education 

3.4:Voice technologies in education

3.5: Wearables in education

Zone 4: The Science of Learning

4.1: Innovative pedagogies

4.2:Learning agility and learning power

4.3:Learning Analytics and Educational Data Mining

4.4:What does neuroscience tell us?

4.5: Learning and the brain: Intelligence ?

Zone 5: Artificial Intelligence and education

5.1:Expectations from AI in transforming education 

5.2:How does AI help the educator

5.3:AI empowering the learner

5.4: Personalised Learning

5.5: Education in the age of Artificial General Intelligence


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Becoming an Independent Educator:

WLL09: Becoming an Independent Educator:


If one were to pursue the profession of medicine, law, architecture or even finance as in a CA, CFA or CFE ( Certified Fraud Examiner), one could choose to be employed by a large corporation, the Government or be self-employed. But these options are not available to a qualified educator. One may have a teaching credential or a Ph.D. with impeccable academic credentials, but one cannot teach as a self-employed academic for recognised qualifications. 

With recent technological trends of smartphones in every hand and more educational Apps becoming available, better data plans for Internet, the traditional barriers to becoming an Independent educator are reducing. 

Just as salaried theatre artists evolved into independent actors and now millionaire superstars, we may see the rise of independent educators in the coming decade. 

This one week course may be the first step by educators in their pursuit of “atma nirbharta” exhortation of the Prine Minister. The ecosystem is now ready to support one person academies. Possibly a 21st century version of our own traditional gurukul. 

The flow of posts for this program is: 

Day 1: Why is it now a good time to be an independent educator ?

1.1: Why become an independent educator?

1.2: A dismal future for the traditional educational Institutions

1.3: The Covid pandemic has given a glimpse of the future

1.4: The top 5 Celebrity educators

1.5: Other celebrity educators

Day 2: Attributes for success as an independent educator:

2.1: The 7 habits of successful people: Stephen Covey

2.2: The 7 qualities of unsuccessful people

2.3: Malcolm Gladwell’s rules for success

2.4: Organising yourself: avoiding procrastination and time management

2.5: Resources : Books, weblinks, Apps and MOOCs

Day 3: Digital skills needed in today’s educator

3.1: Having an effective digital presence

3.2: Presentation tools

3.3: Familiarity with tools for content management 

3.3: Competency in curation tools

3.4: Fluency in communication tools

3.5: Creating a superior digital learning experience 

Day 4: Pedagogical knowledge and people skills for being a successful educator

4.1: New and emerging innovative pedagogies : from pedagogy, andragogy to heutagogy ( managing learning for the self-directed learner)

4.2: Flipped and Mastery Learning

4.3: Ubiquitous and serendipitous Learning

4.4: Personalising the learning experience 

4.5: Leveraging Social Media

Day 5: Business matters: 

5.1: Opportunities as an Independent Educator: Blue Ocean and Disruptive approaches

5.2: Brand and Image Management: Conversational Capital: why should people talk about you ?

5.3: Financial Matters: How to set up your fees?

5.4: Forms of businesses : the One Person Company

5.5: The next steps: Getting mentored



These courses are offered  through WhatsApp that can be easily accessed with a mobile hone on the scheduled  week ( Monday to Friday ) of the month. Expression of interest in joining the course can be made on any day, and all requests received upto 12 noon on the Sunday before the schedule of the course will be placed in a cohort that would begin on the following Monday.


To register for this course:

First pay the fee of Rs 2500/- by PayTM to MM Pant ( mobile number : +919810073724).

Then send a Whatsapp message to MM Pant ( +919810073724) with the following information :

1: Your Name : First and Last

2: Mobile phone number linked to Whatsapp

3: Course Code and course name:

4: PayTM transaction number/ screenshot

5: Your brief profile ( optional). There will be an opportunity to briefly introduce yourself within the group also.

For those who would rather pay into a Bank account, the relevant information is : 

Madan Mohan Pant

HDFC Bank, Unitech Cyber Park, Sector 39, Gurgaon 

A/c 26451000000301


(The account number is 26451 followed by six zeroes followed by 301)


To seek any clarification or for further information, please send a Whatsapp message to Prof. MM Pant at +919810073724

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