Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his Independence Day speech on Saturday that the new National Education Policy will play an important role in making India self-reliant. The prime minister said the National Research Foundation, proposed in the policy, would catalyse innovation and aid the country’s progress.

“Education of the country is of great importance in building a self-reliant, modern, new India, an India which will be prosperous and happy,” Modi said in his address to the nation. “With this thought, we have become successful today in providing the country with a new National Education Policy after three decades. Every nook and corner of India is welcoming it with renewed enthusiasm and a new vigour.”

In his 90-minutes speech, Modi focused extensively on a campaign to build a self-reliant India.

The prime minister said the National Education Policy will keep the students rooted and at the same time will help them become global citizens. “This will shape the India of the 21st century,” he added. “You must have noticed that a special stress has been laid in National Education Policy on National Research Foundation because in order to progress, the nation needs to innovate. Higher the stress that will be laid on innovation and research, greater would be the strength to take India forward in this competitive world.”

The National Education Policy was approved by the government last month, replacing the 34-year-old National Policy on Education framed in 1986. The new highlights include a plan to allow foreign universities to open campuses in India and a single regulator for higher education institutions, except for law and medical colleges.

It encourages the use of technology, the study of Sanskrit, and teaching in one’s mother tongue or regional languages up to Class 5. The policy also said that the various educational boards will continue to conduct 10th and 12th Board exams but the stakes of these exams will be minimised.

Modi also spoke about how the country has adapted to online learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Did anyone even think that online classes would reach our villages so quickly,” he asked. “Sometimes an opportunity can show itself even during a disaster. Online classes have become a culture during the times of coronavirus.”