Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why India cannot become a superpower soon?

India is a developing country. It seems to be catching up with the biggest economies of the world, increasing at a fast rate. From IMF to World Bank, everyone seems to be convinced that India will become a superpower by 2050s. But we should not get deceived by their sugar-coated words before examining the truth ourselves.

Wait a second. So, is India not going to become a superpower soon? Before deciding the answer yourself, let’s look at some hard facts about India’s youth and its education system-

Utter Neglect of Talent in India – India has a population of over 1.2 billion. Naturally, talent is abundant in our population. But how many are able to express their talent? The answer is ‘very few’. This is because the avenues are limited. How often do we see a talented tennis player in our backyard rise to his potential? You would often end up seeing them doing clerical work in some office after 20 years.  Despite having so much talent in so many sports, Indians fare poorly in Olympics or any other international tournament. This is not just a case in sports. You can recall a talented harmonium player, a guitarist, an entrepreneur, etc. Almost all bear the same fate.

Employment for youth – If one were to look at the employment opportunities for youth in India, they are again limited. Most of the jobs that fresh college graduates can get in the public sector are at the clerical level. Jobs are also being created by the private sector but most of such jobs are often in the lowest levels of the hierarchy. The coveted civil services exam is open to just a handful of young graduates. So, what can the youth do? They are either forced to do an MBA to get a serious job in the private sector that pays sufficiently or they will have to migrate from India to other countries if they are intellectually and financially capable enough. Or else, they end up unemployed without finding a job of their choice.

Elite nature of our higher education system – In India, education is being seen as a “good-return” investment rather than a service. As more and more private players are entering in the education “business”, the cost of education is increasing and access is getting limited. Poor students cannot even dream of getting admission in such colleges. With government colleges taking only limited admissions and their quality getting degraded by the day, the poor really don’t stand a chance. The facts are clear on this. Our enrollment ratio is just around 15 percent in higher education, starting from over 95 percent in primary education. So, why has enrollment declined so rapidly? Again, the reason is clear.

Lack of creativity in our classrooms – How often do you find a teacher talk about something that gets you to think? More often than not, they will be busy covering the syllabus which in itself is so designed that many lose interest in between. The output is known to all of us. Our system ends up producing followers rather than leaders, who cannot challenge the status-quo. How many Indians dream of doing something big? The answer again is ‘very few’.

These are just some of the harsh truths that India is facing at present. Instead of thinking about the nature of education and prospects for its youth, the country is marching forward, probably thinking that it will soon become a superpower. But no edifice can rest firm without a strong base and the youth of today are the future of tomorrow who will have to carry forward India’s growth story. If India fails its youth, soon it will fail too.