Rajendra S Pawar
2008 is poised to be another year of high economic growth. As we enter the last quarter of FY 2008, the fourth consecutive fiscal when India has witnessed over 8% growth, we find India’s manpower shortages aggravate even further. Just as growth has been multi-sectoral, so have the manpower deficiencies.
There is scarcity of skilled manpower in every industry, from good carpenters and plumbers to factory workers, doctors and scientists. The banking industry, which employs 900,000 people, is expected to add 600,000 more over the next three to four years.
Similarly, the IT and ITeS industry will need around 850,000 additional skilled manpower by 2010. And, the retail industry will need nearly 2.5 million skilled professionals by 2012. Not only are jobs within India on the rise, the developed world too is facing manpower shortages, which are expected to rise to 40 million by 2020.
This shortfall can be met by India, where both educated unemployment and the number of people joining the workforce are on the rise. In short, the opportunities before India are huge, provided our education sector gears up to take these on.
The good news is that the government is paying heed to this challenge. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is geared towards achieving useful and relevant elementary education for all children by 2010. This movement is showing results. The number of out-of-school children in the 6-14 years age group has dropped from 13.4 million in 2005 to 7.06 million in March-end 2006. Similarly, the Universities Grant Commission has announced a new budget with promising initiatives and better funds for universities.
While these initiatives are welcome, they are unlikely to solve the sheer magnitude of the problem. Manpower shortages are both qualitative and quantitative in nature. The task is a lot bigger. We need to take a fresh look at the education sector.
It’s time we encourage, engage and motivate both not-for-profit and profit-making institutions to set up educational institutions. Whoever wants to contribute to this sector must be encouraged to do so. There is a role for everyone. There is too much to be done.
In 1991, India opened up several sectors to foreign investment. The liberalisation policy unleashed enormous energy in India’s corporate sector. Since then, several Indian companies have gone global and earned a name in the global marketplace.
We need similar type of ‘policy reforms’ in the education sector. Players in this sector must be given the freedom to enter, operate and exit. India needs more universities. While Japan has 4,000 universities for its 127 million people and the US has 3,650 universities for its 301 million, India has only 348 universities for its 1.2 billion people.
India can’t afford to lose more time on debates. In Japan, 75% of all higher education institutions are private. We need to pass the Private Universities Bill that has been pending in Parliament since 1995.
India needs ‘curricular reforms’. In today’s world, where technological knowhow is evolving with each day, educational institutions need to be granted the freedom to engage with the industry and change the curricula as and when required. Educational institutions must teach what the industry needs.
And finally, the education sector also needs ‘financial reforms’, especially in higher education. The government should provide scholarships and loans to those who need it the most, and leave academic fee to be determined by market forces. That’s what will make our Educational institutions relevant and self-sustaining. The need of the hour, therefore, is to rapidly implement this three-pronged reform process, policy reforms, curricular reforms and financial reforms.
A knowledge economy like India runs on the back of its educated workforce. Today, our chances of emerging as a super power squarely rest on our education system and how well it responds to meeting domestic and global requirements for talent. It is an opportunity India just cannot afford to lose.
Can Indian Become A Superpower?
“Unless India stands up to the world, no one will respect us. In this world, fear has no place. Only strength respects strength”, said Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, whom we all know as an ex-President, a great scientist and the ‘Missile man of India’. Dr.Kalam’s mission in life, from a small town Rameswaram to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, has been to make India a superpower by 2020 through his work and motivation to the people of India. But first, we must know what the term ‘Superpower’ actually means.
A superpower is a country with a dominant position in the international system, which has the ability to influence events in its own interests and project power on a worldwide scale to protect those interests. However, in a deeper sense, a country which fulfils the following parameters is a superpower:
(i) A strong political system which is democratically elected.
(ii) Economic stability with productive reforms.
(iii) Trained manpower with a manageable amount of population.
(iv) Cultural & regional unity within
(v) High level of technical expertise & defence capabilities.
Though India is the world’s biggest democracy and has a strong political system, yet to be a superpower, we have to completely eradicate some weeds from our system such as corruption and nepotism. The world corruption watchdog, Transparency International, has ranked India as the 87th most corrupt country in its latest report, which emphasizes how deep-rooted the corruption is in India. But at the same time, we see people like Anna Hazare come forward and force the Government to redraft the Lokpal Bill in the Parliament. His fast was not only an eye-opener for the Government but also for the people to come forward and support such movements, which will highly benefit the nation to be superpower in the coming years.
According to the Economic Survey 2010-11, India’s economy is currently growing at a rate of 8.6% and is expected to grow higher at a rate of 9-9.25% in the next financial year. However, to become a superpower, our own people must get food and other basic commodities at an affordable price, for which India has to control the high inflation, which was at a rate of 9.4%, earlier this year. Thus, we must be focused on keeping the growth engine strong as well as on containing inflation, all within the framework. A survey by Standard & Poor’s says that the top 500 American companies are doing well not because the US economy is recovering, but because there is sustained growth in India & other BRIC nations. Thus, our economy is on the right track, but we have to ensure that the funds sanctioned by the Government duly reach the people at grassroots-level.
For India to become a superpower, we ought to have trained manpower with a manageable amount of population. Today, India is the world’s second largest country in terms of population after China and this high population has always been a big worry and hindrance behind our growth prospects. But this trend is changing and this has been proved by the provisional data of the Census 2011, which states that India’s population has touched 1.21 billion. However, its population has raised only 181 million in this decade (2001-2011) as compared to the rise of 183.3 million in the last decade (1991-2001). Moreover another very important concern for the nation is literacy and education of its masses. For India to grow at a sustained pace to become a superpower, it needs people who are educated and trained. According to Census 2011, a very encouraging fact is that India’s literacy rate has touched 74% in 2011, up from 65% in 2001 and just 52% in 1991. However, we have to continue this trend so that we can achieve our target of 100% literacy and make this great population to join hands, to make India a great nation. But along with these things, India has to become a leader in innovation. It is a general notion that the USA is the epicenter of innovation but the fact is that in the USA, many of the people doing innovation are not American born. They come to America, because great institutions like Harvard and Stanford are still the ideal locations in terms of clusters of talent. If one wants to take a really cutting – edge idea from the laboratory to the market, the USA is still the best place. India’s elite institutions do not seem to do quite as much in terms of commercial spinoffs as their counterparts in other countries. India has to create clusters of talent around its top universities to develop talent and support innovation. For India to become a superpower, we have to support entrepreneurship to create an environment where more people like Ratan Tata, Narayana Murthy, Kishore Biyani can come forward to help build a better India. India has to have a system which gives priority to talent and merit before any other factor. India business should push for changes and a framework where success comes from enterprises and innovation and not from the proximity to politics. Along with this, sole aim of IAS officers and also those who aspire to be one, should be to work closely with different local bodies so that they all work together for the development of the nation as a whole. They have to work tirelessly for the benefit of the nation and fulfil the expectations of the common man.
India is a country of people of different cultures and religions. People of different regions have different customs, but all live together in this country with unity and dignity. Here, there is unity in diversity but still there are stray cases of serious disputes between people of different communities. People have to understand each other and work for each other irrespective of their caste, creed or religion. We need more people like Ms.Chhavi Rajawat, India’s youngest and only MBA to be a village head. She quit high-profile job to become the Sarpanch of Soda village in Rajasthan so that she could make a difference to rural India. Today, we have a sex ratio of 914 girls for every 1000 boys, but have to understand that o make India a superpower, we have to stop female foeticide by spreading more awareness in the rural India about the importance of the girl child.
An essential criterion for a country to be a superpower is that it should have high level of technical expertise and military capabilities. Now, it is beyond doubt that India is a world leader in IT services and we have been a knowledge hub in the past as well as present. Indian scientists and doctors have been excellent in terms of skill and efficiency. As far as space technology is concerned, ISRO is renowned for satellite-building and launching. Though, there have been some hiccups in our space journey, yet with foreign collaborations, we are getting better. However, for India to excel in the field of technology and bridge the gap between rural and urban India, we have to fulfil the dream of connecting every region of India with the Internet. It is a difficult task, no doubt, but with dedication, we have to accomplish this task to make India a superpower. India’s defence capability is also increasing and it is equipped with indigenously developed missiles and nuclear warheads. The latest achievement of India’s defence organisation, DRDO, is indigenously designed and developed light combat aircraft, Tejas. In addition to this, India is also the world’s largest arms importer and has spent money to the tune of $50 billion after the Kargil conflict to strengthen itself. Moreover, India also maintains amicable relations with other countries as well as protects its own interests wherever necessary. With its global presence and participation, India will also become a permanent member of the United Nations in coming times.
Thus, if we analyse India from all sides, then we can easily see that India has all the ingredients to be a superpower. India’s past tells us how India had been a target of human atrocities as well as natural disasters, but it always managed to come out of them and has grown wiser and stronger with every challenge. India is a country where modernity has to blend with tradition. It is time where we have to walk the talk. We, the people of this great nation, have to work with unity to make India a superpower by 2020-25. We have to work with this vision and passion. Swami Vivekananda has rightly said ‘Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached’. A few wholehearted, sincere, energetic men and women can do more in a year than a mob can in a century.
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