Aug 13, 2008
India is no longer confined to being an agricultural economy; it is one of the fastest growing industrial economies. Its race with China to be Asia’s Big Brother is nearing the finish line. There is no doubt as to what is fueling this speeding economy—human power.
Human resource development initiatives have taken a new turn to provide one of the largest workforces in the world so that there's no scarcity of labour. Every sector should find the right person for the right job.
But if one really evaluates our human resources, one may be surprised to know that according to many international standards they are just not up to the mark. This brings us to another serious question—are we just churning out graduates who are practically useless? Are we just busy adding educational qualifications to our students failing to know that it gets them nowhere, except for a handful of those who really meet international standards.
For economic purposes, the productivity of an individual is determined by his or her education, learning, and opportunities to acquire experience and practice. In a country like India there is a wide gap in the quality of manpower. On one hand, there are graduates from the top IITs and IIMs, extremely capable of assuming top leadership. They are handpicked by the best recruiters and paid exorbitantly, often by multinationals. This is another matter of concern. There are a large number of graduates, who are able to get just menial jobs inspite of their degrees. Their fault is that they are not competent enough. This gulf between the two kinds of graduates is increasing because of the partiality in our educational system, and government policies.
There are many other primary areas to look into, which are causing this serious problem. To begin with, conditions of health and education could be identified as areas of concern. Both are closely interdependent. Let us take the example of a child. A child’s ability to take full advantage of opportunities in school depends on his health. Similarly, an adult’s on his mental and physical fitness. If one grows up in a place where primary schooling is lacking, then naturally, the child finds it difficult to cope with the challenges of future studies. Though one may get through, final results will not be equal to that of other graduates. Naturally these graduates do not meet international standards.
There are many government policies that lack large scale and integrated planning. The recent row over quota for SCs and STs in centers for higher learning is a perfect example. This implies that improvement of education requires better use of resources and not just quotas. But just increasing the volume of resources is not the solution. There should be effective policies implemented in rural educational opportunities. This should be implemented in semi-urban areas from where a majority of students come. Along these lines starting of new IIMs and IITs by the government could be considered a good move.
Formal education—from primary school to university—has grown very rapidly in developing countries like India. This tremendous expansion in the educational sector has created excess capacity in certain areas of human capital, but there is a shortage of skilled people required for economic development. 'Investment in man', should not only include educational and health care facilities but all essential practicalities necessary for the all round growth.
This year's budget allots a huge amount of money to defence. While a lot of money is spent on protecting life, why is not even half of the money spent on developing the existing human population? Let the government find innovative ways to match its growing number of graduates to international standards. Let the discrimination in the education sector be stopped and re-evaluated. Only then we will be able to create a brand—brand India.