The world is all set to listen to profound thoughts, visions and plans of the leaders of the world at UNGA. India is proud to get the leadership role in furthering the global agenda on climate change and education as the special speech on both these topics will be delivered by the Prime Minister of India. The campaign “Saurya Mitra” for utilisation of solar energy was launched by the ambitious PM some 4 years ago, and now the world has started to accept it in a profound manner that India must lead the world in changing the track of energy production and consumption from fossil fuel to renewable energy like that from sun light.
India, being the only giant in terms of global impact of soft power, is definitely going to attract unique kind of importance with its huge demographic and handsome economic stakes in the stable development of the first world countries. The change of narrative has definitely changed the perception about India across the globe, which has brought strong push in the efforts of ‘International Indians’ or NRIs to work for India from wherever they are. They are proud to be part of an India that is building its strength and influence in the international scheme of things, and on its way to becoming a superpower.
Every country competes for higher stake so that it may control bigger number of economic activities, which ultimately helps facilitate the wealth creation and possession. That means, to perform more activities, the nations compete for bigger amount of fuel, which requires strong research and development, and technology innovation. We are living in an age which is just waiting for an even round to land in the age of deep automation, huge technology push and smart human interventions. The combination of an abundant energy source like solar energy and an automated AI-driven work culture is going to bring huge challenge of people management in a bureaucratically centralised nation like India.
India is a nation where more than three-fourths of its economy works under unorganised sector, which means the same proportion of workforce is not technically trained and it hardly will be able to perform any skilled activity. It is an evident fact that the future of work is with skills of higher order, consequently labor jobs or repetitive jobs will be replaced by machines, which are more efficient to do them in comparison to humans.
In this perspective, if the grand Indian workforce is kept, the situation appears to be chilling. The question is where will such huge numbers of our fellow Indian will stand in the whole economy without any skill? Will we as a nation be exporter of human workforce to underdeveloped nations? Or will we be able to expand that much where major chunk of this workforce gets adjusted in India only? The world is paying attention to India, in particular at its demographic advantage. Hence, if we fail to capture appropriate space in the world economy by controlling the production and supply chain, academia and other important sectors of well being; no one lacks neckbreaker enemies in this world.
In this kind of decisive situation, it’s obvious that the youth empowerment will be the centre of all development policies across the globe, which starts with education and health. In health, we have been putting huge resources; number of agencies are working and are coming up with better results, which overall projects a rapid transformation.
Although we need to underline here that the elephant is sitting towards curing diseases and early childhood mortality rate prevention only. The preventive healthcare for working class entangles infrastructure, law and order, and civic aspects of service sector and it needs disruptive public participation with innovative value additions. But the burning issue for us is, definitely, education.
A recent article published by the Indian Express found that according to All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) India has registered a dramatic fall, almost 50%, in enrolment in M.Tech in the last 5 years and fall of 11% in enrolment of students in B.Tech. The trend continues for other 4-year courses. On the other hand, courses like MBA, LLB, B.Ed, MBBS have attracted students. The admissions in professional courses have dipped by almost 9% at the undergraduate level and almost 32% at the postgraduate level, and numbers are suggesting a renewed interest of Indian students in academics. All this is happening when 993 universities, 39,931 colleges and 10,725 standalone institutions are having a large number of students (3.74 crore) in higher education than ever before.
Now this drastic shift of interest of Indian students maybe put into several perspectives :
1. There is a dearth of quality in educational delivery in technical institutes apart from the front runners like IITs and IISc and other tier-one expensive private institutes. The poor quality fails to ensure return on investment; hence, students are choosing either the tier-one institutes or academics, which, of course, seeks much less investment.
2. The job market is heavily dominated by generalists, while the education system is yet trying to make out specialists and experts.
We, as a nation, have consistently failed to implement our plans of converged development of our society. There are multiple reasons behind it; one of the most prominent ones is that, traditionally, we were not a society which had always pursued expertise, and hence we enjoyed interdependence. The son of a carpenter used to be a carpenter, the same track was of a barber’s son and this security of generational transfer of skills kept our society under illusion even when industrialisation was knocking on the door.
With global pressure, industrialisation broke into Indian economy and major chunk of the society could not digest it while the mainstream class, which had access to resources and were controlling things, made huge profits. Today also, when the global order will push AI in India, there is a class which will make enormous profits while there is a huge chunk that will lose everything.
Our education system plays a huge role in this whole cultural tide. So far we tried to make thought leaders, morally strong, ethically intact and historically aware citizens; but we definitely have not given required value to business, practicality and applicability of knowledge with the hands of the learner itself. This has prevented us from achieving excellence in practical field of economy and hence from developing enough respect for executive skills also.
This comes in the way of developing a respectful training and working ecosystem for technical experts and compels even an IIT B.Tech graduate to go for MBA, and thus becoming a technical generalist! The strategy of prioritising education and healthcare by the government is also a major catalyst to make the entry courses in both these sectors more attractive amongst Indian students.
The trend is also an indication for entrepreneurs and company owners that they must stop measuring technical workforce very minimal in comparison to the generalist/managers. A proper organisational reform drill may be performed to bring some parity about those who actually perform and those who manage the performance.
It also indicates about the disproportionate expansion of manufacturing sector in India. Opportunity must match the workforce supply. Although India is already having a debate that why must it not remain an import-based nation and export the human resources needed across the world. That is also a way how we may control the global operation.
The push for innovative entrepreneurship appears to be a reason why students may choose to discontinue hectic courses and pursue their ideas. If it is happening and has reached a level, India may see bright days in the coming decade.
Initiatives like Skill India, Startup India, and Stand Up India are influencing the youth of our country to discontinue formal education and become entrepreneurs.
All these vital perspectives bring us to a situation that the India which was considered to be the most influential exporter of best of the engineers, doctors, CEOs is undertaking a deep change and our educators are expected to analyse the socio-economic cusp while they design the curriculum of education. When the world is looking at India with enormous hope, education has got the centre stage and the educators of the country need to facilitate the youth to respond to situations in a creative, positive and responsible manner.